Review: Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko

Almanac of the DeadAlmanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Brutality. Can you get past the brutality in order to make “sense” of the book? After 100 pages, I realized I couldn’t read this book at night—too scary. After 300 pages, I became angry with the author—Why did Silko go this far? Why does she want to exhaust me?

My main question: did this happen? Usually, what’s “true” doesn’t matter to me—given Marquez slippages between magic and history or Dellilo’s leaps between real documentation and counterfeits, I find myself perfectly comfortable occupying the liminal space—slipping between the real and mystical without need for “proof”. But Silko is very very different.

This book slept in the swamp. The swamp was full of shit and fetuses. The fetuses screamed when the Whites tore their arms off. The fetuses died over and over again. Death turns a death-ear.

Given the graphic nature of the book, I wanted proof—I wanted times, places, and circumstances. I wanted some kind of reason for the terror, something that wasn’t just “ prophesied.” And what about all those specific details (like the videotapes section)? —I began to wonder how much was imagined by the author and how much really happened.  And IF it was imagined, why was Silko putting me though it? Was I implicated? Did she want to hold my face in it for a while—teach me a lesson?

I’m not so sure.

All I know is that the book is thoroughly unsettling, a painful spasm that inflames itself constantly. But I never cried. The book didn’t want me to cry. Silko emphatically smashed my face in the real pain of colonialism, but what now?

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