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Book Review: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

February 9, 2021 Leave a comment
Cover of the book "Ceremony," features a blue feather on a blue background.

Summary:
Tayo, an Indigenous Laguna man, returns from being a prisoner of war of the Japanese in WWII without his cousin. Cousin is the technically accurate word, but since Tayo grew up in his cousin’s household after his mother left him there brother felt more accurate. Tayo is half-white and has always felt estranged, but this feeling is only heightened after the war. He is suffering from shell-shock and feels emptiness in the alcohol and violence the other veterans take solace in. When his grandmother sets him up with a ceremony with a shaman with unusual ways, things start to change.

Review:

He wanted to walk until he recognized himself again.

61% location

After years of reading many books about alcoholism – both its ravages and quitting it – I’ve started having to actively seek out the stories that are a bit less well-known. Now, this book is well-known in Indigenous lit circles, but I’ve only rarely heard it mentioned in quit lit circles. I was immediately intrigued both due to its Indigenous perspective (this is own voices by an Indigenous female author) and due to its age (first published in 1986). Told non-linearly and without chapters, this book was a challenge to me, but by the end I was swept into its storytelling methods and unquestionably moved.

He was not crazy; he had never been crazy. He had only seen and heard the world as it always was: no boundaries, only transitions through all distances and time.

95% location

This book is so beautiful in ways that are difficult to describe. Its perspective on why things are broken and how one man can potentially be healed (and maybe all of us can be healed if we just listen) was so meaningful to me. I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to read it.

We all have been waiting for help a long time. But it never has been easy. The people must do it. You must do it.

51% location

I really enjoyed how clear this book makes it that any care for addiction delivered needs to be culturally competent to truly serve the person who needs help. It also does not shy away from the very specific pain of being an Indigenous person in the US, and how addiction both seeks to quell that pain and rebel against the oppressive society.

It’s rare for me to re-read a book, but I anticipate this being a book I re-read over the course of time. I expect each reading will reveal new things. For those who already know they enjoy this type of storytelling, I encourage you to pick this up. Its perspective on WWII’s impact on Indigenous peoples and alcoholism is wonderful. For those who don’t usually read this type of story, I encourage you to try out something new. Make the decision to just embrace this way of telling a story and dive right into it. Especially if you usually read quit lit or post-WWII fiction.

4 out of 5 stars

Length: 270 pages – average but on the shorter side

Source: Library

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Movie Review: Them! (1954)

Giant ants.Summary:
When a small southwestern town sees a spate of sugar theft mixed with mysterious deaths, a scientist and his daughter are brought in to investigate.  They soon discover that a new breed of giant ants have mutated from local nuclear testing and must fight against the odds to preserve the human dominance of earth.

Review:
I watch classic horror movies more for the lols than anything, but every once in a while, one manages to actually stand the test of time and still scare me.

Anyone who knows much about ants knows that they actually are rather awful creatures.  They’re vicious, disturbingly strong for their size, and single-minded to the point of obsession.  That’s the perfect recipe for a formidable opponent if they were any larger.  Combine this with the very real threat of nuclear mutation, and you have the recipe for an ideal horror film.

Something the classic movies did better than today is establish a strong plot-line.  The action is not constant.  It is interspersed with scenes in which the characters attempt to figure out what is going on and determine what to do about it.  This ups the tension for the inevitable “battle the monster” scenes that eventually play out.

Of course a strong idea and plot can still be undermined by outdated special effects.  These effects, however, have truly stood the test of time.  The ants look frightening, not comical.  The scenes are shot in such a way that it all appears to be fairly real, particularly for the decade.  When the sound effect given to the ants–a sort of high-pitched squealing–is added in, it becomes quite easy to suspend disbelief.

If you enjoy a good creature feature as well as an old movie periodically, you won’t regret your time spent watching Them!

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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