Designs of the Night Sky
Native Storiers: A Collection of American Narrativ
University of Nebraska Press
December 1, 2002
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". . . a window into the Cherokee world . . ."
". . . a coming together of past and present, darkness and light . . ."
". . . requires thoughtful attention and patience . . ."
Diane Glancy opens a window into the Cherokee world, where the spirits of those no longer here connect to those yet to come through those still here. Her words are lyrical; images are poetic. Choppy dialogue in sparse sentences describe a troubled family, a troubled history which must not be forgotten.
Her protagonist, Ada, a college librarian, loves her family: a dying mother, troublesome brothers, nieces and nephews flocking to her house for the love they miss at home, her husband and daughters, a sister-in-law conjuring spells in the old ways.
From the library books (talking leaves), Ada senses the voices of tribal story-tellers, handing down their legacy through the ages, before words were written. She inhabits both worlds roller-skating at the Dust Bowl, once a roadhouse, formerly a tribal meeting-house, and originally an encampment. She senses a coming together of past and present, darkness and light, oral and written books, exhilarating and connecting her spiritually with those who once were there.
“In the beginning was the word. . .” “Thy word my shield and fortress.” “Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” These Bible quotations strengthen Ada’s devout faith. Thinking that perhaps stars are alphabet, she makes up written words, subject only to the greater light or voice, the sun.
This book is not a quick read. The unusual cadence and structure require thoughtful attention and patience to discern the Cherokee view of the world.