Thursday, January 12, 2006

Words Contain Power

I just finished the book and have a couple of things to say.

First off-- This was my third reading of Almanac. The first time I read it-- I didn't even get all the way through it--it hurts to admit that as a literary junkie. I realized this time-- that the non-linear story-- the ways in which all the characters' lives intertwine and circle-- was the reason I couldn't keep it straight the first time. Its amazing-- isn't it-- how we're trained as readers to latch onto linear storytelling and expect that one event will automatically follow another in a succinct pattern until the whole plot resolves itself at the end of the story?

I think Silko deliberately chose to make the narrative non-linear so that the reader must participate in the novel's themes and commentary. I don't think its possible to reamin a passive reader and get through this novel...she invites you to be offended, angered, enlightened and disturbed... but you must participate.

I think that Silko was making a statement on the power of the story--the power that words in themeselves hold for creating and fulfilling change. I keep being drawn back to the legend at the beginning of the book--about the two brothers moving north and the disappearance of all things European. I'm also thinking about the Almanac itself-- a book that has been passed down and transcribed and added to by its caretakers. The Almanac isn't fixed or solid or just one story. It contains the stories of everyone who helps translate it. It is always fluid and changing. Also-- it contains a litany of tresspasses that have been recorded so that they may not be forgotten.

I'd also like to talk about "the disappearance of all things European" and get everyone's opinion. I didn't really read that as the disappearance of all things "white", but as the disappearance of a culture of death. I think Silko is making a statement about living in a culture of death versus a culture of life. I still say that this novel isn't anti white, anti black or even a commentary on race. I think its a dialogue about power--about those who are in power and those who are without power. I also think its about community and eshewing a system that profits from blood, war, poverty and the sale of human flesh. I think she's also commenting on the power of capitalism and the celebration/adulation of the rich who stand on the backs of an ever increasing poor population.

1 comment:

EssBee said...

Welcome, Strozier!! Hi from Georgia -- I'll comment on this post when I can. I have to get to work just now, but just wanted to say that it's exciting to see your thoughts. I, of course, agree w/ you & find your analysis eye opening on a lot of levels. More later!