Rants, Raves & Reviews
The Diamond Doorknob, a novel by Marijo Moore
Renegade Planets Publishing
P. O. Box, 2493, Candler, NC 28715
2003, $20.00, paper
Reviewed by Steve Potter
The Diamond Doorknob, by Marijo Moore, is a novel about the entwined destinies of a group of people from Crockett County, Tennessee, during the first half of the Twentieth Century. What's most appealing about the novel is the equal treatment it gives characters of different backgrounds; Native American, African American, European American, rich and poor, and the unflinching way it looks at some of the harsh realities of life such as racism, incest, child abuse and alcoholism.
While the novel has an ensemble cast of characters and is told from multiple points of view, the main character is a woman named Cloud whose mother is Cherokee and whose father is a white man she's never met. Other characters such as Edgar O'Reilly O'Shea, her abusive ex-husband, Levi Houston, her lover who came home from World War II in one piece only to lose an arm in a mill accident, and Beretha, a black maid who worked for Levi's grandmother, get plenty of space, but it is Cloud's journey of self discovery and empowerment that is central to the book.
The diamond doorknob of the title refers to the glass doorknob on the door of the tar paper shack where Cloud spent her early days. The shack belonged to Cloud's Granddaddy Smoker, a Cherokee shaman who tells fortunes. Though already dead, or as Cloud says it in the Cherokee way, gone to spirit, for most of the time covered in the novel, Smoker is a prominent character. He is Cloud's spiritual guide who visits in dreams and offers her direction.
Although there is much to like about this novel, it never quite lives up to its potential. The dialogue comes across as authentic and natural at times, but is forced and awkward at others. The author's excessive use of internal monologue saps the narrative of its strength. Numerous scenes could've been conveyed much more powerfully if the device was not used and the author was thus forced to rely on the dramatic possibilities of the situations themselves.
Steve Potter lives in
Seattle. His work has appeared in Art Access, Chrysanthemum,
3rd Bed, Midnight Mind, Stringtown,
Raven Chronicles, and the Pacific Northwest