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Medicine River Paperback – Sep 23 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (Sept. 23 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014305435X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143054351
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #35,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Winner of the PEN/Josephine Miles Award and nominated for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, Medicine River is a great introduction to Thomas King's humorous fiction. It's the story of Will, a mixed-blood man of Blackfoot descent and a marginally successful Toronto photographer, who has returned to the reserve for his mother's funeral. Will isn't planning on staying in Medicine River, but his old friend Harlen Bigbear has other plans for him. In a unique brand of community planning, Harlen sets out to sell Will on the idea of returning to Medicine River as the town's only Native photographer, and manages to convince him to at least give it a try. Will feels alienated from his friends and family, but the ever-engaging Harlan has an answer for everything.

King's gift as a comic writer is his ability to tackle serious issues within an engaging comic narrative. He subtly explores the exclusion of First Peoples from white culture and history and the challenges faced by contemporary Native communities trying to maintain a connection to the past and a grip on the present, and he makes us laugh at the same time. Using a series of comic vignettes, King draws us into the very heart of Medicine River and creates a wonderful and intimate portrait of small-town life. Readers might also want to check out his fabulous novels, Green Grass, Running Water and Truth and Bright Water, and his short-story collection,One Good Story, That One. --Jeffrey Canton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

First novelist King, a professor of American and Native American studies and himself of Cherokee, Greek and German descent, sets his gentle, deliberate and ultimately engaging comedy about a group of contemporary Native Americans in a small Canadian community. Will returns to Medicine River, a town just outside a Blackfoot reserve, to bury his mother and reconsider his past. In short order he finds himself very much caught up in the present, opening a photography studio and playing on the local basketball team. His best friend and sometime coach, Harlan Bigbear, quickly convinces him to get involved with pregnant, unwed (and rich) Louise Heavyman. Will visits with Martha Oldcrow, the marriage doctor, and grapples with David Plume, just back from the protest at Wounded Knee. He meets other wanderers, from Joe Bigbear, Harlan's brother, a world traveler and storyteller par excellence, to Bertha Morley, who leaves the reservation to try her luck with a Calgary dating service. King's deceptively simple comedy is an intriguing portrait of Native American life today.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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
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Format: Paperback
This title was my second foray into the realm of King's writing, and I found it to be as rewarding as the first (his latest novel, Truth and Bright Water - another superb read).
Medicine River is the story of Will and his best friend Harlen, and a cast of other lovable, hilarious characters as they go about their day-to-day life. There is intrigue and gossip, speculation and antics, all true to form for any typical nuclear community. The book's dialogue is superb - and laugh-out-loud funny. The reader will embrace Harlen's quirky views with glee and will sigh right along with Will, as he diligently works to get Harlen around to the punchline. Wonderful exchanges.
King has an incredible gift - it's that of showcasing the heartbreak of life against the backdrop of humour, and he does it with style, class, and ingenuity. He continues this fine tradition in Medicine River. The plight and struggle of the Native community is seen through Will's recollections of growing up fatherless. He spells out the hardships his mother endured while trying to raise him and his younger brother on her own. The story of many souls across the land, and King - through Will - has done a class act job portraying the depths of experience. The healing balm in Thomas's writings is, of course, laughter and humour, and you'll get lots of that in this novel.
The New York Times said of this book, "Precise and elegant... a most satisfying read." I'm in full agreement. An excellent book and worthy of a spot of your bookshelf. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Set in Alberta, Canada, it's a loving, wryly funny portrait of the fictional inhabitants of Medicine River. With the gentlest of pens that belies the pathos beneath, the lives of native americans are opened. I will read more by him.
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By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 3 2013
Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
This novel ticks a lot of boxes, so it's found a permanent place on most first-year English courses. That said, King is a fine storyteller and creates many compelling images. I've enjoyed reading and teaching this book. If you're looking for a diverting but not mindless read, this book is highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
I've been fortunate to teach King's wonderful book to students at several American universities. His insights into Will's complex identity is compelling for my native and non-native students alike. If one can stop laughing long enough at the crazy antics of the characters, the depth of the author's feeling for this native community, and for the richness of their very human entanglements shines through. Very, very, highly recommended.
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