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Almanac of the Dead [Paperback]

Leslie Marmon Silko
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 29 1992
In its extraordinary range of character and culture, Almanac of the Dead is fiction on the grand scale. The acclaimed author of Ceremony has undertaken a weaving of ideas and lives, fate and history, passion and conquest in an attempt to re-create the moral history of the Americas, told from the point of view of the conquered, not the conquerors. Author readings.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Silko's ambitious but meandering novel untertakes an epic narrative, heavy with intrigue and carnage, about an apocalyptic Native American insurrection. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When the ex-mistress of a sinister cocaine wholesaler takes a job as secretary to a Native American clairvoyant who works the TV talk show circuit, she begins transcribing an ancient manuscript that foretells the second coming of Quetzalcoatl and the violent end of white rule in the Americas. Witches and shamans across the country are working to fulfill this prophecy, but the capitalist elite is mounting a dirty war of its own, with weapons such as heroin and cocaine. This novel belongs on the same shelf with Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo ( LJ 10/1/72) and Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975). Occult conspiracies multiply at a dizzying pace, and eco-radicals actually do blow up the Glen Canyon Dam. Silko succeeds more as a storyteller than a novelist: the book is full of memorable vignettes, but the frame story of apocalyptic racial warfare is clumsy comic book fare. Recommended for collections of magic realism and Native American fiction.
- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch . Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother with it Oct. 22 2000
By A Customer
Despite what some people claim, this book is horrible. No, it's not the issues addressed, it's the racism and hatred of white people, it's the the whole book. There is no real plot or central theme. If you meet a character, no matter how minor, you will find out about their sex life and sex constitutes probably two-thirds of the novel. Almanac of the Dead is basically several short stories (that might have been interesting on their own) intertwined to create this disaster of a "novel". Nothing really fits together and at the end you will wonder what the point of all the exposition is when it just suddenly ends and rather cheesily ends. Run far away and forget you ever considered this book. Live and happy and full life and avoid the headaches, boredom. Enjoy the time you could spend reading it doing something else like playing with your kids, doing volunteer work, or reading something enjoyable like Something Wicked This Way Comes or Sense and Sensibility or Harry Potter. Call the friend you haven't seen in 5 years, but don't waste your time on Almanac of the Dead.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A novel? A jumble? A really long book. Sept. 6 2000
A book only for those good at skimming. Where were this woman's editors? There are plenty of good stories in there, sadly, they are overwhelmed by Silko's yen to regurgitate every single thing she knows about thousands of unrelated items, like a messed up and poorly written encyclopedia (or almanac?), and not in the Borgesian sense, more in the long-winded sense.

There are good characters in this book. Unfortunately, Silko also includes their laundry lists, measurements of their teeth, the minutes from the board meetings they attend, their favorite recipes for cornbread...

Characters and story lines are introduced, then abandoned and left to dangle, only to be revisited in the most repititious and taxing prose imaginable. With a few years of editing and rewriting, this tome might yield some decent novellas, an interesting collection of folklore and ethnography, and some dreary journalistic material. As is, it is not some grand, free-flowing, apocalyptic--oh, I forget what the review said--but a big mess disguised as a novel.
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2.0 out of 5 stars It took months to read this March 22 1999
By A Customer
I got this from the library, since Ceremony was such a good and dense book. I tried to like this book from start to finish (2 months later), but I can't help but think the author bit off more than she could chew because it was all too easy to lose sight of basic characters established in the beginning when reading the elaborations on all that is disgusting and yet human (e.g. misogyny, drugs, snuff films, etc.). Another reviewer hit the nail on the head in saying that something good about this book is that it does not glorify all that is Native American, but I think that may be the only good thing. I think that this book would have benefitted greatly had the author collaborated with another writer, I don't care who. Her vision just could not hold this massive idea together long enough to create cohesive text. People are beasts, all people, and they all create history and mythology of some type or another, and all events in time are connected, but is this really a thesis for an epic novel or is it more suited to intellectual study?
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, but flawed, paranoid, and didactic Aug. 1 1997
By A Customer
Silko lost control of this one. What she originally intended to be an action thriller about the Tucson-area drug trade exploded into a nearly incoherent assemblage of unresolved and mostly unconnected plots and subplots. Conspiracy theorists will love Almanac, but fans of Silko's first novel, Ceremony, will be disappointed.

Certainly worth reading, Almanac of the Dead is at its best comic and entertaining, with some well-developed and unique characters. The best are Roy Rambo, the chief of the Army of the Homeless in Tucson, whose identifying mark is his crisp, dry-cleaned green beret; La Escapia and the Police Chief in Mexico are also powerfully developed and involved in some of the more interesting scenes in the novel.

Others are disappointing: Beaufrey and Serlo, for example, both misogynist dealers in pornography, snuff films, and white supremacy, are developed into the ground. Silko repeatedly tells us what we can figure out on our own: Beaufrey and Serlo hate women, and they are racists. This tendency to tell rather than show happens repeatedly in the novel and causes it to sag.

Many readers will find the violence and sex in the novel not just gratuitous, but downright sickening. Infanticide, bestiality, torture, cannibalism, autopsies, illegal organ harvesting--it's all here, often described in minute, clinical detail. Although one could argue that Silko is making a critique of the cultures that produce these deviants, clearly her representations of perversions and death are excessive.

Readers looking for insights into problems plaguing contemporary Native Americans found in Ceremony will not like Almanac at all. It goes on and on and on, ending with the reader wondering what it all means.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Look out of physical symptoms July 9 1997
By A Customer
Silko has written the most disturbing work of fiction I have ever read -- brutal, violent, vulgar, obscene, horrific, ugly, terrifying.....and unfortunately true. With a cast of characters as degenerate as they come, Silko strips away the facade of "manners" and "civilization" to expose the ugliest of the ugly in man, an ugly too near the surface of many people. Blinded by their own self-centeredness, each character stumbles toward personal armageddon from which there is no escape. The novel presents none of the hopeful aspects which are generally associated with contemporary Native American literature (but one, Sterling's return to Laguna) -- there are no living children to continue the family and no characters in relationships that offer this hope, no communities with strong emotional ties, no returns (except for Sterling's), and no healing. Morally and emotionally scarred, the characters move through the novels like the decaying creatures in a horror movie. No book has ever made me physically ill until this one -- headaches, nausea, nightmares, general disgust. If you have a weak constitution, skip this one. Also, watch out for extreme prejudice -- are Europeans the only ones not allowed to live on in the promised land? Are Europeans the only group that is not tribal, and therefore not deserving of a place in the Americas (a trick question, for if you believe in evolution, all groups were tribal at one point or another)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Great American Novels of the Latter Half of the 20th...
By any standard of measurement, Leslie Marmon Silko is a great American writer, and her novels, beginning with "Ceremony", are notable additions to American literature. Read more
Published on July 4 2012 by John Kwok
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Revelation
Leslie Marmon Silko has created an intensely profound window into the deep undercurrents of American civilization. Read more
Published on April 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Native Reality Check
I am a Native American woman, and I found this book empowering, depressing and very raw. I can see people that I know in the characters in the book as well as having had some of... Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book...
Wow, what a concept...we finally have a Native American stream-of-consciousness novel! Enough of these white-man's dreams like The Tunnel or Gravity's Rainbow, we finally are... Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2000 by Zentao
5.0 out of 5 stars prettysnake says, sssssuper book Sssssssilko!!!!
Not nearly as complex as some would like to make it. The "land" interacts with people to manifest its spirits. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2000 by Zane Ivy
5.0 out of 5 stars Almanac of the Dead
This happens to be one of my favorite books of all time--yes, it's "disturbing", rambling, complex, and shocking. Read more
Published on July 14 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing
I found Silko's book too disturbing to keep on reading. I understand that the disturbing nature of the work is the point of the book, but it was too depressing (and,as another... Read more
Published on April 6 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful....& food for thought.
What can I say but I loved this book. Got it because a friend mentioned it and he was not wrong. It is a deep book and one has to concentrate a bit in order to follow all the... Read more
Published on June 11 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel I have ever read
Anybody who thinks this is merely fiction is mistaken. This is reality, and it is happening as I type. Read more
Published on May 9 1999 by Marc Rikmenspoel
4.0 out of 5 stars a scatter-shot Dos Passos vision-questing on crystal-meth
then again- how often do you get to read about airliners being brought down with static electricity shot from a rabbit's paw? Read more
Published on July 20 1998
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