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Ceremony: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)…
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Ceremony: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (original 1977; edition 2006)

by Leslie Marmon Silko, Larry McMurtry (Introduction)

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2,293402,776 (3.77)78
Member:markwinston
Title:Ceremony: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
Authors:Leslie Marmon Silko
Other authors:Larry McMurtry (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Books (2006), Edition: Anniversary, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko (1977)

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Book recommended in an essay on Magic Realism:  http://www.writing-world.com/sf/realism.shtml
  GeetuM | Jun 3, 2016 |
Tayo returns home to the Laguna Pueblo reservation from World War II suffering from PTSD and attempts to cure himself by reconnecting with the traditional ceremonies of his people.

This was a slow read, mostly because the language is very poetic and demands a lot of attention to be paid. In fact, poetry is woven into the narrative at several points, which were probably my favorite sections. The poems relate traditional stories and comment on the events of the main narrative. (I would like to go back and reread the poems by themselves at some point.) Silko pays a lot of attention to the natural environment of the story, and these descriptive passages are among the most beautiful.

The first part of the story shows Tayo's suffering from his memories of the war, from his lifelong feeling of not belonging (he is half Native American and half white), and from the loss of the two people who meant the most to him, his cousin and his uncle. He is afraid that if he doesn't get better, he will be confined to a mental hospital. So he goes to a native healer who "prescribes" a ceremony for him.

At this point, I had trouble following events and discerning what was real and what was magical realism. This is also the point in the story when a fierce anger toward white people, who lie to Native Americans and to themselves, begins to bubble to the surface. This anger is justified but surprising, given the peaceful, nature-oriented tone of the writing. Tayo eventually finds a way to explain the actions of the whites, but I'm not sure that I entirely believe the anger has been soothed, nor am I convinced that it should be. The final scenes include some shocking violence, which again I wasn't sure was adequately explained by Tayo's reasoning.

I think this book demands to be reread. Close attention needs to be paid to the symbolic aspects of the ceremony and to the parallels between Tayo's story and the traditional stories of the ancestors, which can probably only be done after the initial reading has been absorbed. Only then can this story be fully understood, I suspect. ( )
  sturlington | Jun 3, 2016 |
Review: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. This book is about Native American literature well written. The author’s use of language, poetry, the descriptive beauty of the land, and the theme of healing presented a great story. It’s more of the Laguna Indian’s life and their struggle to determine self-identity. The book is complex with many layers that’s thought provoking but worth the read. The story is incredible for the many issues that are discussed throughout the book as; the feeling of belonging but also being an outcast, the mixing of cultures, and a person’s role in a greater society, and being labeled. The story does jump back and forth between the present and past, but as long as the reader keeps track as they read it’s easy to understand. The plot is of a half Native American man, Tayo who comes back from World War II and has issues and struggles to fit back into society. His critical torment is with many dreams and flashbacks after flashbacks. As I read about his story I couldn’t help but sympathize with his PTSD, especially coming home from war with so many people around him who were immature party people, alcoholics and some egotistical righteous people who pressured Tayo because they claimed they knew what was best for Tayo. Tayo has many reasons to be disturbed as he witnessed the death of his cousin/brother Rocky who also served in the War and it caused him internal conflict that haunted him when he got home. Meanwhile, he tries to unwind the confusion that has a hold on him and his family and friends think he is crazy. Tayo tries to deal with the shame of his mother’s past and his hate for Emo, an Indian war-vet who knew him from childhood, who is resentful of Tayo’s white roots because he wants to be white. Then there’s Harley, one of Tayo’s Indian companions who is always drunk and gets into a lot of trouble. Plus, his aunt he grew up with is a racist who discriminates against Tayo because of his white roots. Another character is a typical medicine man that is important because of his deep roots in the Indian culture. The author emphasizes on poetry to represent the reader about various legions that are part of the Indian culture. The story will take you through Tayo’s difficulties, past and present, and all the horror’s he encountered while trying to heal his loss of heritage, loss of land, loss of love ones, and loss of self. Tayo is brought to the medicine man that sends him on a journey to complete his healing process with the aid of Ts’eh, a woman with whom he falls deeply in love with that he had met several times during the book. She helps him put his own fears and doubts to rest to capture his uncle’s dream and bring his ceremony to an end….. ( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
First off, two stars means that it was ok-- not terrible and not earth-shattering. I simply could not get to Tayo as a central character. I would have liked to read more about him than what was offered. Tayo, to me, didn't seem completely developed. I found Josiah and Betonie more compelling and wish they would have been explained more into Tayo's narrative. I didn't have any issues with the physical layout of the book-- i.e. no chapter demarcations, etc. Blurring the lines of a conventional, linear story is nothing particularly new and Silko did an good job in that respect. What I would have liked to see more developed in Tayo is his coming to terms with his 'whiteness'. Throughout the story it was very apparent Tayo was marginalized because of his 'whiteness'. I felt that he never came to terms with this aspect of himself; rather he re-integrated completely back into a culture that didn't fully accept him. So it seemed to me Tayo's heritage was still skewed and not resolved-- whatever Tayo's resolution may have looked like. Perhaps that is part of the Silko's own narrative-- there are aspects of ourselves that sometimes we just can't fully integrate within ourselves. Still, I would have liked to see a little more from the story about Tayo's position.
I also felt like the story behind Tayo's mother was never really developed either. Silko makes it clear that she was promiscuous and had an affinity for white men. Other than a general idea we have no other context in which to place Tayo's mother.
Ceremony seemed to have a few superfluous characters as well-- Pinkie for one. We know that Pinkie is a childhood friend of Tayo and drinks a lot with Emo, Leroy and Harley; here again it seemed like there wasn't a context for Pinkie other than the drunken 'friend'.
I simply could not connect with the characters of Ceremony in the way I could with Susan Power's Grass Dancer, or Simon Ortiz' from Sand Creek, or Louise Erdrich's Tracks. ( )
  Jazmsngr | Mar 25, 2016 |
I'm going to be thinking about this novel for a long time. I don't understand its power. I'm not sure how it works. The same actions and perceptions, throughout the novel, can be taken as signs of mental illness, or signs of mental clarity. Time sequence is broken over and over again in the novel, and yet the movement of the story from beginning to end feels as propulsive and climactic as any linear story. The language feels simple and declarative at first, until I realize that it's highly elevated, to the extent that it resembles poetry--and then it becomes actual poetry on the page. Characters seem simultaneously real and mythological. There are no sharp edges between the characters, either--rather than having any sense of autonomous 'self' they are defined instead by their relationship to one another. What is real and not-real is likewise not sharply defined. Dream bleeds into memory into a fictive reality and back into dream. I didn't feel this novel was written to explain something to me. I felt instead that Silko wrote exactly and uniquely to her purpose. She wrote something entirely new. I've never read anything like it. ( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
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This book is dedicated to my grandmothers, Jessie Goddard Leslie and Lillie Stagner Marmon, and to my sons, Robert William Chapman and Cazimir Silko

Thanks to the Rosewater Foundation-on-Ketchikan Creek, Alaska, for the artist's residence they generously provided. Thanks also to the National Endowment for the Arts and the 1974 Writing Fellowship.

John and Mei-Mei: My love and my thanks to you for keeping me going all the time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140086838, Paperback)

Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution.

Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremny that defeats the most virulent of afflictions—despair.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

This story, set on an Indian reservation just after World War II, concerns the return home of a war-weary Laguna Pueblo young man. Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution. Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions-despair. "Demanding but confident and beautifully written" (Boston Globe), this is the story of a young Native American returning to his reservation after surviving the horrors of captivity as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II. Drawn to his Indian past and its traditions, his search for comfort and resolution becomes a ritual--a curative ceremony that defeats his despair.… (more)

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