Ceremony

Ceremony

eBook - 1986
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This story, set on an Indian reservation just after World War II, concerns the return home of a war-weary Laguna Pueblo young man. Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution. Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremny that defeats the most virulent of afflictions-despair. "Demanding but confident and beautifully written" (Boston Globe), this is the story of a young Native American returning to his reservation after surviving the horrors of captivity as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II. Drawn to his Indian past and its traditions, his search for comfort and resolution becomes a ritual--a curative ceremony that defeats his despair.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1986, c1977
Characteristics: 262 p. ; 20 cm

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

This book took me forever to get into, because it is not told in a linear fashion. It jumps back and forth between the childhood history of the main character, Tayo, his current reality, his experiences on the Bataang death march, and the stories of the Laguna Pueblo.

Underlying the novel is a decidedly postcolonial recontextualization of the European colonialization of the Americas as a result of witchery intended on destroying all of creation; and the need for ceremonies to make ourselves whole.

Tayo, a biracial Navajo-European man, suffers from PTSD. The entire novel is the ceremony that makes him, and his world, whole again, bringing back the rains from a period of drought.
I would have preferred more forward female characters that were not mythical (presumably). Still, the novel was worth the work.

l
lukasevansherman
Oct 02, 2018

"Indians wake up every morning of their lives to see the land which was stolen, still there, within reach, its theft being flaunted." Powerful, haunted, and complex 1977 novel set on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation in New Mexico. Consider reading this after Thanksgiving dinner this year. Introduction by Larry McMurtry. Also, "Fool's Crow," "Love Medicine," and "House Made of Dawn."

l
LL22
Mar 06, 2017

I loved this book, it was like no book I had ever experienced. Suited to those with a deep interest in understanding the trauma which affects many Indigenous people today, and how healing can take form. The first time I tried to read this I was not prepared for its advanced approach to spirituality so could only read it for the storyline, which didn't take me past the first few chapters, but when I decided to pick it up again it was perfect in every way. Truly immersing and challenging; a treasure I will always carry.

l
Lolacabana
Mar 17, 2015

Sherman Alexie recommends

Library_Dragon Dec 09, 2013

Read this book for a class in college and loved it. Terrific lyrical writing. Marmon is one of my fave Native American authors, right up there with Sherman Alexie.

v
VRMurphy
Dec 09, 2013

The description of this book sounded fascinating, and there are a number of themes that interested me. That being said, I didn't care about the characters, didn't find the writing compelling, and stopped reading about 25% through. I don't give up on many books.

u
uncommonreader
Sep 13, 2012

This story, by an aboriginal writer, is set in the American southwest. It tells of a soldier returning from WW II who is suffering from post-traumatic stress and recovers through aboriginal spirituality. It is an excellent book; a classic.

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The whole book includes multiple PTSD flashbacks, so there are many intense scenes, both of the violence perpetrated/experienced by the veterans and of the violence of PTSD itself

m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

Sexual Content: There is some, consensual, sex outside of marriage

m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

Violence: Especially toward the end of the book, there is some fairly intense violence. Also, the author vividly describes the Bataang death march.

Quotes

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

He cried the relief he felt at finally seeing the pattern, the way all the stories fit together—the old stories, the war stories, their stories—to become the story that was still being told. 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.

m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

They are afraid, Tayo. They feel something happening, they can see something happening around them, and it scares them. Indians or Mexicans or whites—most people are afraid of change. They think that if their children have the same color of skin, the same color of eyes, that nothing is changing.” She laughed softly. “They are fools. They blame us, the ones who look different. That way they don’t have to think about what has happened inside themselves.

m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

“I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.”

Age

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

mayog thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Summary

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

Tayo, a WWII veteran, struggles with PTSD and undergoes a Laguna Puebo ceremony to help right himself again.

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