Painted Turtle: Woman with Guitar

Clarence Major, Author
Clarence Major, Author Sun and Moon Press $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55713-002-0
Reviewed on: 06/26/1987
Release date: 07/01/1987
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)
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