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The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  552 ratings  ·  107 reviews
A highly original and poetic self-portrait from one of America's most acclaimed writers.

Leslie Marmon Silko's new book, her first in ten years, combines memoir with family history and reflections on the creatures and beings that command her attention and inform her vision of the world, taking readers along on her daily walks through the arroyos and ledges of the Sonoran
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 7th 2010 by Viking
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Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Having read Silko's beautiful novel Ceremony, I was surprised by the entirely different atmosphere of this memoir, in which she says she set out to offer a self portrait. This doesn't mean that she describes her appearance or her personality or a herstory of her life strung on a timeline. Time is a bowl of the present that has ancestors recent and ancient all here in it. Stories have a when here in the bowl somewhere. When and where are distances of mental walks. Or rides on horses or t
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
I loved this book. I chose it because I wanted to visit the natural landscape of Tuscon through the eyes and insights of a lyrical nature writer. I was also looking for the perfect birthday present for someone who knows that landscape well, to transport them back there, reignite something without having to travel. And of course, being curious I had to read it first, it was far too big a temptation and we are the kind of friends you can do that with, indulge the gift before giving it. And wow, wh ...more
Why is it that every time I read a book about the southwest, the spiritual journeys of post-menopausal women come to mind? Is it because the last time I went to Sedona the gift shops were riddled with older women oohing and aahing over dream catchers and sacred crystals like they were Jesus fish only to be briefly interrupted by the promise of healing vortex's in the surrounding mountains? In any case, this book was nothing like what I've just described. For one thing, Leslie Silko is native to ...more
Tina Cipolla
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
In Turquoise Ledge Leslie Marmon Silko assigns gender to the two major categories of storms out here is the desert. There is the summer monsoon storm with its loud blustery brashness and showy lightening display that sometimes turns violent; it makes lots of noise but delivers little in the way of life-giving rain. Then there is the winter rainstorm that builds up slowly over the ocean; it rolls in quietly, rains down gently for a good long time. It refills the aquifers and brings life to the de ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Turquoise Ledge
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
Close your eyes and picture the most beautiful scenery in the world. Take this unique and special walk along with the author, hear the sounds of the animals, see their footprints in the sand, smell the greenery and feel the earth in your hands, see the images in your own mind that she creates and go along on her speed walks. Pick up your own turquoise stones, create your own personal stories and ledge and enter an entire new world along with author Leslie Mar
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading in preparation for Almanac of the Dead...

One of the oddest memoirs I've ever read, but certainly one of the most charming. As a former desert-dweller, her long walks and observations made me ache for the vast, lonely stretches of New Mexico. She's a gentle soul, and much of her focus is on the creatures with whom she inhabits her space, and her relationship to the land and to her ancestors. Be warned: there's little structure to speak of, so if a diary-style cataloguing of rattlesnakes a
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
a diary or day-book of Silko's days and walks in the hills and arroyos surrounding her home near Tucson. One of things I loved about this book is that nothing happens--it's like sitting next to a wise, nice friend with not much to do, listening to them tell of what they've observed, how they've lived out their recent days. Or a long walk with a guide who knows the land as well as it could be known in a human life of deep veneration and close observation. You trust Silko, it's a very intimate con ...more
Apr 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: a masochist!
Recommended to Diane by: my book club
Oh this is a rough one! She rambles on and on about her favorite rattlesnakes and the rats that are living under her kitchen floor and talks about her 8 dogs and 14 parrots (no lie). She goes on for chapters about the rattlesnakes--these are her memoirs???-and I can only imagine it's for shock value. Once she got into the star beings, that was it for me.
I think, and I say this somewhat tongue in cheek but not entirely, she was stoned when she wrote this book. That's the only way it makes sense.
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Not the conventional memoir, though one should expect lack of convention from Silko by now.
And, oh, but she DOES tell us of her family and her lovers; they are the snake, the owls, the toads, the Star Beings... she blends the earthly and ethereal into what they are: one.

As with her character, Ayah, in Lullaby, Silko knows full well that there is nothing between us and the Divine, that our separateness is only an illusion, that time is not linear, that past, present and future all exist, right he
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 100-in-2011
2011 Book 18/100

A huge fan of Leslie Marmon Silko's fiction, I was thrilled to see her memoir on the library shelf. After a rough start with a section focused on familial history, a section that felt slow and ponderous to me even when the stories intrigued, the remaining four sections grabbed me and made me read this book late into the night. The book is divided into 5 parts: Ancestors, Rattlesnakes, Star Beings, Turquois, and Lord Chapulin, and each part contains chapters that often feel like j
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was Terry Tempest Williams' review of this book that made me want to pick it up. That being said, TTW could urge me to read a technical manual on how to change a light bulb and I'd find value in it. The Turquoise Ledge, a memoir by Leslie Marmon Silko, is an exploration of place that is absolutely unfamiliar to me. She looks at her own native history and considers memory as it relates to family lore only as accurate as one wants to truly remember. Truth and memory become skewed over time, alt ...more
Maureen Grigsby
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A love story to the Tucson Sonoran desert!
John Benson
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This is an interesting memoir in that it is written in such a different way. It starts out fairly conventionally telling of Leslie Marmon Silko's early life in New Mexico on the Laguna Reservation. In it she tells of family members and her connections and disconnections from them. But the remainder of the book takes place on the edge of Tucson where she has lived for some thirty years. Mostly, she describes walks she takes on the edge of the Saguaro National Park as she looks for pieces of turqu ...more
This was such a peaceful, contemplative memoir. I felt like I was listening to Silko's internal monologue as she went on one of her walks. There is a lot about going on solitary walks through nature and the way things shift depending on the day and the mood and therefore the level of observation able to be given to the world around her. Also, these walks serve to help her discover the turquoise ledge that is somewhere around where she lives.

At first, I thought the title was metaphorical somehow.
May 24, 2011 added it
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May 13, 2014 marked it as abandoned
I won't rate this memoir because, although I reached page 140, I couldn't finish. Leslie Marmon Silko, of mixed ancestry ( Laguna Pueblo, Cherokee, Mexican and white) is an inventive writer and I stayed with her as she described her complex family history in no particular time frame or order as she moved through many homes and back again in the beautiful Southwest. It was difficult and I guess unnecessary to follow the names and stories. I even lasted through the snake chapter which is interesti ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of Leslie Marmon Silko's life in the Tucson Desert. Having read books by other native American authors I am familiar with the belief that all things in the creation are alive and have a soul including things like rocks and boulders. In this memoir this becomes evident as the author navigates her small farm and her walks through the Big Arroyo and the Small Arroyo noticing the boulders, the sand, the trees and the animals that live there.

The memoir begins with Ma
Nov 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-reviews, diaries
I was interested in reading a book that was supposed to be Leslie Marmon Silko's memoir. I had very much liked her most recent novel, Gardens in the Dunes. I expected a book that was as well written as that novel had been.

Normally, a book intended to be a memoir has an organizing principle. It's usually chronological, but it could be organized by topic. The Turquoise Ledge recounts daily activities and associated reflections. So I think it would be more accurate to call it a diary. I recognized
Anita Biers
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I read the Turquoise Ledge I felt as if I was with her, living in that wonderful desert and seeing all the wonderful creatures she saw. I felt her joy at walking the arroyo and looking for turquoise and her dread at seeing the machine man take over sacred territory. I am a white woman currently, in this lifetime, from southwestern Pennsylvania, but I have always felt at home in the southwest part of our nation. However, I, too, have found wonderful uninhabited places here in PA that were ul ...more
Elly Sands
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it
So here in northern Arizona where I live, we are being overwhelmed with honeybees taking over our hummingbird feeders. It's been a real dilemma as no one really wants them around. But this author begins one of her chapters with "This is a great day...the bees are back!" This is what I enjoyed most about her book. How she relates to the natural world and that every critter, insect, and rattlesnake has a place in life and live freely around and sometimes inside her house. I found her writing a bit ...more
Elissa Washuta
Silko could have accomplished as much in the space of an essay. Her descriptions of the landscape and the rocks and animals that inhabit it quickly become repetitious and tiring, and the book lacks any tension or narrative to keep it interesting. If you're looking for something like her previous books like CEREMONY and STORYTELLER, you won't find it here. If you're new to Silko, try STORYTELLER, a memoir that, like this, isn't quite a traditional memoir, but unlike this, braids together Silko's ...more
Laura Hoopes
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Silko's fiction is exciting and I see that readers who loved Ceremony and other works didn't usually give this memoir many stars. It's gentle and quiet and contemplative, weaving together daily life in hot, dry desert country that Silko loves, her concerns about the direction the world is taking, and her interactions with ancient spirits of her Native American relatives' tribal cultures. I enjoyed it a great deal, feeling that she took me by the hand on her daily walks through desert country, w ...more
Lisa Basile
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful memoir tells the life of Leslie Marmon Silko. What can I say that hasn't been said? It brings me to her place, her topography: the deserts of Arizona, the place littered with Sun Beings and turquoise bits and sandstone. Really, it's pages of beautiful memory. Told gently, unpretentiously, with love and honesty. It's the telling of mythology and folklore, and very universally accessible for those who have a love for the S.W. USA and the history of the Pueblo people, Mexicans and Sp ...more
Courtney Stockstill
Jan 31, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I can't force myself to read any more of this. I've read the first 31 chapters... 174 pages out of 311. I keep thinking it will get better, but it won't. It's not like I have to read it. This book just rambles on about one woman's personal journal of how she walks around the arroyo's in Tucson and picks up turquoise, and how she has all her favorite rattle snakes in her yard, etc. etc. I can't believe it got so many good reviews. Oh well, I must learn to cut my losses sooner with this type of bo ...more
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
I picked it up since it was on the Pima County Library's Best Southwest Books of the Year List and I had enjoyed some of the author's novels. Really enjoyed the part about her younger years in Laguna Pueblo but the second half of the book seemed very repeatitive and I finally gave up. There are pages and pages about all the rattlesnakes that live in her yard and the turquoise rocks she picks up. When we got to the messages from the star people things just got a bit too strange for me.
Elizabeth Felicetti
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not sure why I was drawn to this book; at least partially because I'm from Arizona, and went to college in Tucson, where it's set. I'm in awe of the way the writer lives among wild creatures in her desert home. I couldn't read it as quickly as I read most memoirs: she forced me to slow down. It's haunting. Going to take me a while to articulate what it meant to me to read.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this very meditative and healing in its redundancy and quiet study of place and person. And whenever I started to lose interest or feel like we were covering familiar ground (which, also, we were, which was the point), Silko would throw in some observations of the star people or the demise she wished her destructive neighbor, and that would keep me engaged a bit longer.
Rebecca McNutt
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Turquoise Ledge is a beautiful memoir but it gets a little preachy on the environmental aspect sometimes if you know what I mean.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A lyrical embrace of nature and the supernatural.
Amy Casey
Leslie Marmon Silko is one of my literary heroes--her searing, gorgeous novel Ceremony is one of my favorite books of all time. So, I deeply enjoyed this chance to hang out with her in her desert memoir The Turquoise Ledge. The book itself can be repetitive and unremarkable, but it's less of a book and more of a long sit-down at the kitchen table with your grandmother, as she tells you about the special rocks she saw on her walks and the animals she saw in her garden and what's been going on wit ...more
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Leslie Marmon Silko (born Leslie Marmon; born March 5, 1948) is a Native American writer of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the First Wave of what literary critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance.

Silko was a debut recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant, now known as the "Genius Grant", in 1981 and the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Life

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