something i think is beautiful

it dawned on me that by looking at my blog one might start to think that all i'm interested in is dancing, drinking, hanging out with friends, taking little trips and having my head in the clouds. hmmmm, okay not so far from the truth. just kidding. the truth is, i have a real passion that is very different from all the above. it is reading.

or should i say READING!
despite appearances, much of my life i've spent in complete solitude with my nose buried in a book. (above you see me bringing together two of my faves, i'm reading a book about cats. in a flannel nightie) this is obviously why i chose to go to grad school for literary studies, certainly not because i wanted to find a good job or make money or build a career. ha ha, no no no. i am sadly not a very ambitious person in the ways of the world. nope, i devoted all the time and energy it took simply because i love to read. and to think and talk about reading and books.

so i thought i would honor the joy and intensity reading has brought into my life by occassionally writing about authors or books that i love.

i am currently reading Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog which is a fascinating account of native american resistance in the 1970s. reading it is making me think of another native writer that i love: Leslie Marmon Silko. her books shape my world; she is one of my favorite writers and her novel Ceremony got into my skin and left me open to the sun.  i have an extra copy if anyone wants it; i'll send it to you right away if you give me your address.

so today i looked through Storyteller by Leslie Marmon Silko. it is a different kind of book than her novels, and very beautiful. it is wide and soft and it looks like this:

i love it because it is full of the stories of her people and it crosses typical euro-american genre boundaries. words fly and leap across the page like animals in the southwestern land she knows and loves so well. poetry, short story, memoir, song, photograph together create a new kind of narrative landscape where all life is possible, time is a spiderweb, and all voices are heard.

the images upon these pages also sharpen my recent desire for the desert:

there she is, the one and only.

and my favorite of course.

this following poem once inspired darin to write a song of the same title.
i think it is incredibly haunting and gives me the kind of feeling i had when i first read Ceremony.

I climb the black rock mountain
   stepping from day to day
I smell the wind for my ancestors
   pale blue leaves
   crushed wild mountain smell.
   up the gray stone cliff
   where I descended
                     a thousand years ago
Returning to faded black stone
where mountain lion lay down with deer.
It is better to stay up here
                     watching wind's reflection
                      in tall yellow flowers.
The old ones who remember me are gone
              the old songs are all forgotten
and the story of my birth.

How I danced in the snow-frost moonlight
              distant stars to the end of the Earth.
How I swam away
                        in freezing mountain water
                        narrow mossy canyon tumbling down
                                        out of the mountain
                                         out of the deep canyon stone
                                           the memory
                                                              spilling out
                                                              into the world.

who are your favorite authors you love dearly forever?
also don't forget to tell me if you want a copy of Ceremony!


Milla said…
I would LOVE a copy. I'm looking up Lakota Woman right now.
mooncowboy said…
Heather, didn't we just talk about Lakota Woman recently?? I bought a copy at DI and asked you about it. I am currently reading House Made of Dawn, just watched Dances With Wolves for the first time last night, and will have to read Lakota Woman next! I should really read it with you . . . miss that from school. I also have Storyteller, though haven't read it. Big backedup book collection which I love so much. Moving is helping me rediscover gems.

Oh yes: I love my desert too.
Missa said…
Sounds like perfect reading to take along on a road trip through the southwest, some of the most magical road trippin' there is!
Mikie said…
I never read. I feel like I lost my reading and scholarly days somewhere in the haze of the rest of my lostness since school. I live around people now who don't think outside their city walls.
Reading you blog was inspiring because both you and Matt used to carry great conversations with me about wordly things and humanity and philosophy. Now everyone I know just talks about money and sex and propriety all the time. Reading IS a beautiful thing because it reminds you of different perspectives from your own, a key survival tool in my opinion. It's something I could do much more of. Thanks for the inspiring authors up here Hez.
milla, it's on the way!

matt, yes we certainly were talking about it and you inspired me to read it. catch up! it took me awhile to get into it since she covers things i've already read extensively about but suddenly i got hooked once she got into the details of the wounded knee standoff. i love that you are immersing yourself in native american history and lore.

missa, so true, especially since the book actually refers to real mining by the u.s government on a sacred native mountain in new mexico. but the stories live in the land and that can never be destroyed. the southwest is an enchanted road trip that i am currently planning...this fall!?
yeah mikie! you are a great reader. never forget it! you've read most of fante's books right? because they would be perfect material as backdrop for your LA adventures.
Teenysparkles said…
Wow, I remember I read a very touching short story of hers. It was sad - a post-colonisation piece. I also studied Lit at University; I loved it, but am a lazy-ass and am a couple of papers off finishing the degree. It's funny, this is the 2nd blog I've come across this week, where an author has been mentioned that I read about in my lit subject "American Short Stories". The universe is trying to tell me something I reckon.
mooncowboy said…
I second your Fante suggestion, Heather.
Amy Beatty said…
Like Matty already said--we have got our minds wrapped around the most down to earth people, animals and land. Seems we are all on the same page-- beautiful.
Milla said…
Heather I'll trade you for Sweethearts by Melanie Rae Thon, if you haven't read it. She's imho the great under-appreciated American novelist.

I also love such literary giants as Annie Proulx and Marylynne Robinson. Truman Capote too is perennial favorite. I adore his short stories and Breakfast At Tiffany's.

Generally though I like certain books better than certain authors. For instance, I love beyond words Not The End Of The World, by Kate Atkinson, but have not enjoyed many of her other works.

One of my favorites when I was younger was Banana Yoshimoto. For years her novel N.P embodied the sense of melancholy and disassociation I felt back then.
Ann Marie said…
hooray for books and reading!
Anonymous said…
Heather that poem is so beautiful. It opened my soul and made me see beyondd my own sunlit window. Your ancestors also lived in the deserts of the South. Maybe that is why you feel it so deeply. I remember my favorite subject in third grade was the desert and studying horny toads and owls that burrow their little homes in huge towering cactus and trap door spiders...I seem to remember a road trip through Death Valley when the temp was 120 degrees when we stopped at a little country is the time to visit the wildflowers of the desert when they have drunk up the spring rains and blossom their hearts out before the summer heat. You are my girl, love you, never stop writing, Marmie
Jody said…
"Lakota Woman" is my absolute favorite book, it changed my life, and Mary Crow Dog also wrote a second book called "Ohitika Woman" which is also amazing, her name while she wrote that was Mary Brave Bird. Her story is amazing and inspiring, and for me, it was a huge eye opener. I can't wait to look up "Ceremony." Thanks for the awesome post!

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