Of history and home

 

The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir
Leslie Marmon Silko
336 pages, hardcover: $25.95.
Viking, October.

The big arroyo has no attachment to the way things are. The arroyo is the space the water and the boulders and other debris pass through in floods, the space that desert animals and I move through. The space that is the arroyo changes with every flood.

More than 30 years after publishing  her first novel, Leslie Marmon Silko has penned a self-portrait. A poet, essayist and short-story writer as well as the author of three novels -- Ceremony, Almanac of the Dead and Gardens in the Dunes -- Silko is undoubtedly one of the West's most influential writers. She's also notoriously private, which makes The Turquoise Ledge all the more alluring.

Silko's memoir begins with recollections of her childhood in the Pueblo of Laguna, a reservation an hour west of Albuquerque. She writes of horses and sandstone, of blue corn enchiladas and of hunting deer with her father on the flanks of Mount Taylor. Silko relays a complex family history: She descends from the Laguna and Cherokee tribes as well as tribes in Texas, but her family's roots also extend into Mexico and Europe. Her mother's father belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, and her father's family's household included Juana, one of four young Navajo sisters captured by Spanish slave hunters during the 1823 military campaign against the tribe.

Most of the memoir, however, concerns the author's daily life in Arizona's Tucson Mountains, where she has lived since the 1970s. To Silko, these mountains represent home -- and healing. Readers learn about the trails she explores and the beauty she encounters, and come to  understand her fierce sense of right and wrong, particularly when it comes to wildlife and developers, earth and bulldozers.

This is not a book for readers who like to put their favorite writers inside neat boxes. Silko generally relies on her childhood memories of places and faces and doesn't insist on resolution or redemption. Nor does she stuff her memories, stories and facts into a linear narrative. Silko is more interested in the landscape of the Tucson Mountains and the way clouds form to sometimes drop rain than she is in making sense of her own history -- and that is much of this unusual memoir's appeal.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Methow Valley Citizens Council has a distinguished history of advocating for progressive land use and environmental values in the Methow Valley and Okanogan County...
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • CONNECTIVITY SCIENCE COORDINATOR
    Position type: Full time, exempt Location: Bozeman preferred; remote negotiable Compensation: $48,000 - $52,000 Benefits: Major medical insurance, up to 5% match on a 401k,...
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
    ArenaLife is looking for an Executive Assistant who wants to work in a fast-paced, exciting, and growing organization. We are looking for someone to support...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Mountain Lion Foundation is seeking an Executive Director. Please see our website for further information - mountainlion.org/job-openings
  • WASHINGTON DC REPRESENTATIVE
    Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Washington, DC Position Reports to: Program Director The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is seeking a Washington, DC Representative...
  • REGIONAL CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER
    Position Title: Regional Campaign Organizers (2 positions) Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Preferred Billings, MT; remote location within WORC's region (in or near Grand Junction...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....
  • HEALTH FOOD STORE IN NW MONTANA
    Turn-key business includes 2500 sq ft commercial building in main business district of Libby, Montana. 406.293.6771 /or [email protected]