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Medicine River

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Medicine River.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Thomas King(Author)

    Book details


When Will returns to Medicine River, he thinks he is simply attending his mother's funeral. He doesn't count on Harlen Bigbear and his unique brand of community planning. Harlen tries to sell Will on the idea of returning to Medicine River to open shop as the town's only Native photographer. Somehow, that's exactly what happens.

Through Will's gentle and humorous narrative, we come to know Medicine River, a small Albertan town bordering a Blackfoot reserve. And we meet its people: the basketball team; Louise Heavyman and her daughter, South Wing; Martha Oldcrow, the marriage doctor; Joe Bigbear, Harlen's world-travelling, storytelling brother; Bertha Morley, who has a short fling with a Calgary dating service; and David Plume, who went to Wounded Knee. At the centre of it all is Harlen, advising and pestering, annoying and entertaining, gossiping and benevolently interfering in the lives of his friends and neighbours.

Will is unsuspectingly and pleasantly caught up in local events after he returns to Medicine River, a town just outside a Blackfoot reservation, to bury his mother. "Gentle, deliberate and ultimately engaging," said PW . " King's deceptively simple comedy is an intriguing portrait of Native American life today." Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. YA-- Medicine River is a small town near an Indian reserve in Western Canada. Narrated by the town's only Native American photographer, the loosely woven episodes revolve around Harlen Bigbear, whose specialty is providing "general maintenance" to his friends and acquaintances. There is humor and warmth, whether Harlen is persuading Will--who is over 40--to play on the all-Native basketball team or to court Louise Heavyhands, or whether he is arranging the lives of his neighbors and friends. Interwoven into the story are the narrator's bittersweet experiences of growing up with his brother, James; enduring the eccentricities of his Native American mother; and wondering about the white father he doesn't remember. These characters all fall within the mainstream of American cultural experience, yet they should expand YAs' multicultural awareness.- Ruth Melvin, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VACopyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

4.3 (5351)
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Book details

  • PDF | 272 pages
  • Thomas King(Author)
  • Penguin Canada (May 7, 1996)
  • English
  • 2
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Ronald Scheer on November 19, 2004

    I really enjoyed this novel. Like a number of modern Native American authors, Thomas King tells of life among reservation Indians that's free of stereotypes and sentimentality. His central character, Will, a half-breed, lives and works as a photographer in a town called Medicine River, not far from Alberta's Blackfeet reservation. Somewhat passive and resigned to the lot he has chosen in life, his solitude is disrupted almost daily by Harlen Bigbear, a gregarious friend who knows the business of everyone in the Indian community and actively tries to act in everyone's best interest. In other words, he's a meddler.The novel is a series of loosely strung together incidents, involving Harlen's attempts to make things happen, not the least of which are his efforts to get Will to marry the unmarried mother of a little girl with the unlikely name of South Wing. The present day stories are intercut with flashbacks to Will's past, growing up with a younger brother, their father a white cowboy having long deserted the family. And there are flashbacks to a time in his adult life in Toronto, where he became involved unknowingly with a married woman.I loved the gentle and ironic humor of this novel, the many characters who spring to life from the pages, and the roundabout indirection of Indian dialogue, including the persistent way in which people seem not to listen to each other. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the North American West, modern day Indians, and a style of storytelling that speaks from heart.

  • By A customer on November 17, 1998

    This intricately woven novel is a modern masterpiece. Although I showed the movie (starring Graham Greene as Will) in my class this semester, most of my students clamored to read the book as well, and as a result got a fuller experience for having done so. King is able to say so very much about the nature of human beings while at the same time adds the touch of humor that seems to be so lacking in most modern novels with something to say. I have read this book at least five times, and have purchased more than six copies--I keep lending them to friends or giving them as gifts. Read Thomas King--a clear, welcome voice for the new millenium.

  • By deadmanjones on July 10, 1998

    This book is one of the reasons that I never regret going to university, and why I'd like to thank Dr Laura Peters for including it on her Canadian Literature Course. It's brilliance lies in the fact that on the one hand it is easy to read, enjoyable and light fiction; whilst on the other hand it is a complex novel of modernity, identity and history. Bring what you will to the novel, and take what you want from it - but you will come away from the book feeling better for the experience of reading it

  • By A customer on December 1, 1997

    Although it was a blunt 261 pages the story of a small time photographer and his adventures and mishaps with his friends and acquaintences in a small town called Medicine River was very appealling. I finished the book in one setting and wanted to know more about this town near an Indian reservation and the people who inhabited it. I am going to lend it to everyone I know.

  • By J.A.Henry on March 21, 2013

    Having used the film made from King's book for my Native Images in Film course, I was interested to see how closely it adhered to the original form. I was not disappointed, and appreciated the changes the film clearly had to make. (Buy it from Amazon as well - I don't think you'll be disappointed either, it's good work.) As fellow Tsalagi (Cherokee) who has lived up north in the area where the book is placed, I couldn't help smiling at least a dozen times and thinking the words,"This is so rez...!" Finally, reading it as awriter, I was kept riveted by the tools through which King keeps unpeeling the characters, their stories and their lives. So this one is 3 for 3 for me - five stars, an engaging, enjoyable read well done that allows a realistic glimpse of our people as real human beings.

  • By A customer on November 2, 2000

    This story, told in typical native style, is about Will finding his "family" or relations. I found the novel to be most enjoyable and true to the human condition. As King said, "tragedy is the topic, comedy is the strategy."

  • By Heather Pearson on March 3, 2013

    After his mother passes away, Will decides to return home to Medicine River, Alberta. Once there he meets up again with Harlen Bigbear and his life is never the same.Harlen knows everyone and doesn't mind adding his helpful suggestions in any situation. He introduces Will to all his relations on the reserve as well as dozens of others. Harlen is not content to sit back and watch others live their lives, he wants to be part of them, he wants to help. This gets Will involved with many more members of the community. It doesn't take long for Will to become an integral part of the society.Mr. King has a wonderful story telling ability. He takes ordinary, everyday events and turns them into occasions. When Will and Harlen are looking for a gift for South Wing, they could have driven straight to Martha Oldcrow's. But no, add the adventure of going off roading, stripping and wading across the river, and now you have a story worth repeating for generations. Did I forget about Will dunking Harlen?My favourite part of the novel occurs when Harlen convinces Will to offer a "special" for family portraits. When he agrees to do Joyce Blue Horn's family photo, he's figuring on wife, husband and kids. By the time the Shoot is completed it has included an excursion to the river where the 50+family members, including the newly "adopted to the family" Will. I can just imagine the conversation and how this simple photo steam rolled into such an event.Interesting story telling technique Mr. King didn't go beginning to end, rather he jumped all around. Giving little tidbits that left me hungering for more. It's hard to put down a book that keeps teasing you with little details.

  • By Raymond D. Schamel on March 14, 2014

    Thomas King is a master of presenting the human condition in a manner most enjoyable. It results in leaving you satisfied and yet wanting more.


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