Painted Turtle: Woman with Guitar

Painted Turtle: Woman with Guitar

by Clarence Major
     
 

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A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

This novel, narrated by Baldy, a Navajo/Hopi guitar player, tells the story of Zuni folk singer Painted Turtle, from her childhood experiences on the reservation to her performances in cantinas in the Southwest. First published in 1988 and long out of print, this work from Clarence Major follows

Overview

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

This novel, narrated by Baldy, a Navajo/Hopi guitar player, tells the story of Zuni folk singer Painted Turtle, from her childhood experiences on the reservation to her performances in cantinas in the Southwest. First published in 1988 and long out of print, this work from Clarence Major follows Painted Turtle as she seeks to assuage the spiritual sicknesses that have shaped her uneasy relationships with family, friends, and her tribe.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Interspersing the mythic tales that for centuries explained the world to her Zuni ancestors with the realities of modern Indian existence, folksinger Painted Turtle struggles for balance in her life. First seen in the author's My Amputations , Painted Turtle's story is told here by her lover Baldwin Saiyataca, a Navajo guitar player. Baldy's imagined interpretations of the events that shaped Painted Turtle and her songs retain the essential remoteness of her character and give the narrative a lyrical, rhythmic quality. Memories of growing up in her extended Zuni family, in which many traditions were preserved, are interwoven with grimmer threads: her rape and the birth of twin boys when she was 13, brief stints as a prostitute, the establishment of her career as a singer. Major brings his characters to life with the accretion of specific details. Even so, his novel is distinctly spiritual, emphasizing the significance of traditional beliefs in the lives of Painted Turtle and her family. (September)
Library Journal
Georges Seurat painted with small splashes of color that at close range seem disjointed and random but at greater distance create a stylized view of reality. Major ( My Amputations , LJ 7/86) uses the same technique to tell the story of Turtle, an American Indian woman caught in a cultural time warp. Wanting only to be left alone to lead her life, Turtle is instead forced constantly to adapt to circumstances beyond her control. Major's experimental tale is told with poetic skill. The result can be difficult reading, but if one steps back (as with Seurat), the full effect is appreciated. Michael Boylan, Marymount Univ., Arlington, Va.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826356000
Publisher:
University of New Mexico Press
Publication date:
03/01/2015
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

An award-winning painter and author of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, Clarence Major is a distinguished professor emeritus of twentieth-century American literature at the University of California, Davis. His novel My Amputations, winner of a Western States Book Award, was reissued in 2008.

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