Storyteller

Storyteller

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by Leslie Marmon Silko
     
 

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Storytelling is an integral part of Native American tradition. It goes back hundreds of years, and spans the continent from ocean to ocean. It was the means by which tribes and nations communicated from generation to generation their feats, legends, and religious beliefs. These stories had a magical quality; they were both real and wondrous, and they had the power… See more details below

Overview

Storytelling is an integral part of Native American tradition. It goes back hundreds of years, and spans the continent from ocean to ocean. It was the means by which tribes and nations communicated from generation to generation their feats, legends, and religious beliefs. These stories had a magical quality; they were both real and wondrous, and they had the power to bring the people together as nothing else did.

In this volume, Leslie Marmon Silko demonstrates that storytelling is not only alive but still imbued with the power to move and deeply affect us. "White ethnologists have reported that the oral tradition among Native American groups has died out," the author notes, "because whites have always looked for museum pieces and artifacts when dealing with Native American communities... I grew up at Laguna listening, and I hear the ancient stories, I hear them very clearly in the stories we are telling right now. Most important, I feel the power which the stories still have, to bring us together, especially when there is loss and grief."

Here Ms. Silko weaves a magical spell, as she re-creates the ancient stories, in prose and poetry (the distinction for the Native American is far less than in the European tradition), spicing them with the realities of her own experience. They are stories of her own family - of Great Grandma A'mooh, of Grandpa Hank and Aunt Susie and Aunt Susie's daughter Bessie; they are archetypal stories filled with characters like Old Ayah and Yellow Woman, Buffalo Man and Hummingbird; tales infused with a sense of tradition and love of place, yet filled too with the harsh realities of hunger, poverty, and injustice.

In this work, what Leslie Silko has given us is, in a real sense, a Native American Roots.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394177953
Publisher:
Random House, Incorporated
Publication date:
11/13/1990

Meet the Author

Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 to a family whose ancestry includes Mexican, Laguna Indian, and European forebears. She has said that her writing has at its core “the attempt to identify what it is to be a half-breed or mixed-blood person.” As she grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, she learned the stories and culture of the Laguna people from her great-grandmother and other female relatives. After receiving her B. A. in English at the University of New Mexico, she enrolled in the University of New Mexico law school but completed only three semesters before deciding that writing and storytelling, not law, were the means by which she could best promote justice. She married John Silko in 1970. Prior to the writing of Ceremony, she published a series of short stories, including “The Man to Send Rain Clouds.” She also authored a volume of poetry, Laguna Woman: Poems, for which she received the Pushcart Prize for Poetry.

In 1973, Silko moved to Ketchikan, Alaska, where she wrote Ceremony. Initially conceived as a comic story abut a mother’s attempts to keep her son, a war veteran, away from alcohol, Ceremony gradually transformed into an intricate meditation on mental disturbance, despair, and the power of stories and traditional culture as the keys to self-awareness and, eventually, emotional healing. Having battled depression herself while composing her novel, Silko was later to call her book “a ceremony for staying sane.” Silko has followed the critical success of Ceremony with a series of other novels, including Storyteller, Almanac for the Dead, and Gardens in the Dunes. Nevertheless, it was the singular achievement of Ceremony that first secured her a place among the first rank of Native American novelists. Leslie Marmon Silko now lives on a ranch near Tucson, Arizona.

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