Moores The Diamond Doorknob
a book review by byron ballard
first met the writer MariJo Moore in her delicious little book Crow
Quotes and I followed her career as a columnist in the Asheville
Citizen-Times. She is a vibrant wordsmith who documents the little-publicized
lives of non-reservation American Indians (a term she prefers to Native
Americans). Her work encompasses womens issues, substance
abuse and recovery, physical and sexual abuse, family dynamics and a
deeply felt spiritual practice.
did I mention shes funny?
most recent book is The Diamond Doorknob, published in paperback
by Renegade Planets Publishing. According to Moore, this occasionally
autobiographical novel has been twenty years a-birthing, and its
often been heavy labor. But the result of all that blood, sweat and
tears is a novel unlike any Ive read.
begins with an act so repellent that the quality of writing alone is
what propelled me forward. Moore has some of the quirkiest characters
youre likely to encounterher short stories (which I also
recommend) are peopled with folks who stand on the bridge between myth
and modern life. I am often fooled by her characters, rushing to judgment
early on only to find there was more to them than met the eye. I was
fooled this way by a couple of the characters in The Diamond Doorknob
(will I never learn?), disappointed that they seemed two-dimensional,
only to have them blossom out a few pages later. This was true of Willie
Dee and again of Levi. These charactersso flawed, so expertly
drawncapture the imagination.
theres one scene that I replay in my head as though watching a
play. Cloud, the young woman whose life we follow through he course
of the book, visits her mother and grandmother in Lauderdale County
after a terrible fire. Its straight out of the world of Greek
tragedy. Look here
walked into the bedroom that was tinted orange from the glow of the
glass front of a small pot-bellied stove in the corner. The room was
so hot, Cloud felt faint but steadied herself. The old woman looked
asleep. breathing deeply, making a wheezing sound that filled the room.
Her face looked much smaller than Cloud remembered. Her long thick silver
hair was spread out on the pillows. Madi whispered softly to her sister,
Kilo tsatvhido hedoha. Someone is here to visit you....
She kissed her grandmother again, and then gave Madi a hug.
You are Indian, Madi whispered into Clouds ear. Holiga.
You know this. Cloud smiled at Madi in answer.
Diamond Doorknob ends with Cloud coming to the highlands of her
ancestors, coming home to her heritage, still following the spiritual
calling that has led her this far. I invite you to pick up a copy of
this book at your local bookseller and enter this hard and beautiful
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