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The Way to Rainy Mountain [Paperback]

N. Scott Momaday
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 1976

First published in paperback by UNM Press in 1976, The Way to Rainy Mountain has sold over 200,000 copies.

"The paperback edition of The Way to Rainy Mountain was first published twenty-five years ago. One should not be surprised, I suppose, that it has remained vital, and immediate, for that is the nature of story. And this is particularly true of the oral tradition, which exists in a dimension of timelessness. I was first told these stories by my father when I was a child. I do not know how long they had existed before I heard them. They seem to proceed from a place of origin as old as the earth.

"The stories in The Way to Rainy Mountain are told in three voices. The first voice is the voice of my father, the ancestral voice, and the voice of the Kiowa oral tradition. The second is the voice of historical commentary. And the third is that of personal reminiscence, my own voice. There is a turning and returning of myth, history, and memoir throughout, a narrative wheel that is as sacred as language itself."--from the new Preface

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Product Description


"Mr. Momaday retells the Kiowa myths that he learned from his grandmother, speculates on the actual history they may symbolize, and describes, with infectious nostalgia, the Indian life he knew as a child. There are distinctive illustrations by the author's father, Al Momaday. The whole book is most attractive; beautifully written, full of gentleness and dignity."

From the Inside Flap

Kiowa Indian myth, history, and personal reminiscences.

Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written Story Jan. 24 2004
In his writing, Momaday creates a vibrant sense of how stories are expressed through living words within vital communities. His brillant blending of mythology, folktales, oral history, historical descriptions, and personal reflections all connect in a fascinating story about finding one's way in life's journeys. The writing is so vivid and the book is so animated that patient readers will connect with what Momaday presents, provided that they choose to share in the reflective silence that he offers on the way to Rainy Mountain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless journey March 3 2002
The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday; illustrated by Al Momaday. Highly recommended.
Rainy Mountain, a "single knoll [that] rises out of the plain in Oklahoma," is an old landmark for the Kiowa people. It is a land of bitter cold, searing heat, summer drought, and "great green and yellow grasshoppers." It is a land of loneliness, where the Kiowa were drawn after a long journey from the northwest through many types of lands.
The Way to Rainy Mountain is about the journey-in myth, in drawings by Momaday's father Al, in reminiscences, and in historical snippets. All reveal aspects of Kiowa culture, life, philosophy, outlook, spirituality, and sense of self-the beauty and the desolation, how the introduction of the horse revolutionized Kiowa life, the story of Tai-me, and the richness of the word and the past. It is a literal journey as well; Momaday, in Yellowstone, writes, "The Kiowas reckoned their stature by the distance they could see, and they were bent and blind in the wilderness."
This is a small gem of a book, beautifully written, illustrated, and designed. It has moments of insight, beauty, and sadness, as the ending of the Sun Dance, telling as the sun is at the heart of the Kiowa's soul-a soul that survives in every word and drawing of The Way to Rainy Mountain.
Diane L. Schirf, 3 March 2002.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unique Jan. 5 2001
This book is deceptively short: it can be read in about an hour, but you find yourself going back and reading its various passages and thinking about them long afterwards. Momaday tells a story of the Kiowa Indians by tying in three aspects: folklore, actual historical events and his own family history. The book's format underscores this, with the first, folkloric item printed on one page, and the historical and personal reflections in separate paragraphs on the facing page, all set in different fonts. Not meant to be a comprehensive account of the Kiowas, it is rather an attempt to express the author's own feelings and his own view of his heritage. In this he largely succeeds, as he writes poetry in a simple yet powerful prose form. The only shortcoming for me were the illustrations (done by Momaday's father), which seemed to add little to the overall narrative. Otherwise, "The Way to Rainy Moutain" is a very unique and worthwhile book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars rich in history and image May 27 2000
Momaday spins together pieces of Kiowa myth and image interweaved with tales he heard as a boy. Poetic, tragic, unforgettable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars the way to rainy mountain May 6 2000
"the way to rainy mountain," look for momaday's use of imagery to make incidents and details come alive
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By J. Hale
Momaday's narrative comprises an elegy for Kiowa culture, drawn from his memories of his grandmother and other family members and from their memories of a culture now lost. And the book ends with a stunning poem, the likes of which one rarely finds in contemporary poetry. It's that closing poem that lifts this humble book into the realm of masterpiece. As Chaucer's Pandarus says, "Th'ende is every tale's strengthe."
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