cover image The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir

The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir

Leslie Marmon Silko, Viking, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-02211-3

Novelist, essayist, and poet Silko (Gardens in the Dunes) find in her deeply meditative memoir-cum-journal an exquisite harmony between the native ways of her ancestors and the cycle of nature that unfolds in the high desert of Arizona where she has lived for 30 years. Practicing speed walking over the steep trails of the Tucson Mountains, Silko gained an un-self-conscious state in which she observed the changes in nature and spied turquoise, an important signifier of water and rain for the indigenous peoples of the area. Stories of her growing up in the pueblo of the Laguna tribe in southeast New Mexico alternate with her daily reflections living among the companionable rattlers, macaws, pack rats, and grasshoppers: born in 1948 of mixed parents, Silko was early on made aware of the rich heritage of the elders such as in the grinding songs of the old women, yet she also felt the shame of the pueblo people in the loss of their land to the American government and the Indian slave trade. The bulk of her beautifully composed memoir takes place at her Tucson ranch, where she records the rhythms of drought and rain, and recognizes in the visitations of animals and spirits she calls "Star Beings" a fluid and delicate life's balance between human and nature. (Oct.)