Cover image for Designs of the night sky
Designs of the night sky
Glancy, Diane.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 157 pages ; 22 cm.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3557.L294 D47 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this innovative novel, a librarian of Cherokee ancestry rekindles and reinvents her Native identity by discovering the rhythm and spark of traditionally told stories in the most unusual places in the modern world. Ada Ronner, a librarian at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, hears books speak and senses their restless flow as they circulate. The same relentless energy and liberation of the story is also felt by Ada as she roller-skates at the Dust Bowl, a local skating rink, floating far ahead of her husband, Ether, a physics professor.

Hearing "the old Cherokee voices" when she skates and works in the Manuscript and Rare Book room in the library, Ada grows increasingly aware of the continuing power of Cherokee tradition today. Coming from a culture based in oral tradition, Ada discovers the potentially liberating role of the written word, and she finds her own empowerment as its promulgator and reinventor in the twenty-first century.

Designs of the Night Sky moves between the turbulent history of a tribe and the experiences of the survivors of that history still caught in turmoil. Rolling from past to present and present to past, Diane Glancy's story provokes and illumines while it invites us to reconsider the form and effect of Native American stories in today's world.

Author Notes

Diane Glancy is a professor of English at Macalester College. She is the author of The Cold-and-Hunger Dance and won the North American Indian Prose Award for Claiming Breath (Nebraska 1992).

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Ada Ronner is a librarian of Cherokee descent working in the Manuscript and Rare Book Room of Oklahoma's Northeastern State University, where the stories of her ancestors, meant to be spoken aloud, are now written down and kept under lock and key. Ada considers this and many other issues as she skates in circles at the Dust Bowl roller rink, the sound of her skates reminding her of the traditional stories dispersed with the winds. Ada was born a Nonoter, which is a great name for a woman with so many questions. But now that name belongs to her sisters-in-law, and the novel weaves together the stories of the two families, including Ada's physicist husband, her daughters, the brothers whose antics she reads about in the papers, and their wives, who constantly leave the children with their dependable aunt. These stories alternate with the tale of the forced westward migration of the Cherokee, told from the documents Ada safeguards at work. Like many Native writers, Glancy (The Mask Maker) is freeing herself of time constraints, and her novels are consequently getting increasingly less linear. Her newest work is told in a stream-of-consciousness style, with an emphasis on the relationships among the events and not their chronology. The result is an engaging novel that deals with the issues of present and past among Native peoples and of Spirit in those who have embraced Christianity. Recommended for women's and Native studies collections and collections of serious fiction.-Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community Coll. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.