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Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
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Medicine Walk (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Richard Wagamese (Author)

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2062181,620 (4.42)28
Member:pickupsticks
Title:Medicine Walk
Authors:Richard Wagamese (Author)
Info:Milkweed Editions (2016), Edition: Reprint, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Canada and Canadian, fiction, aboriginal and indigenous peoples

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Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese (2016)

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This brief book was filled with exquisite language - the story was slow moving and there were chapters where very little happened to move the plot forward. I became frustrated with that at times, but the beauty of the writing kept me reading.

A Native Canadian boy, raised with deep love by a white man, is introduced to his alcoholic biological father several times during his youth. When he turns 16 he travels with his dying bio father to the man's final resting place, and while traveling learns about his life. I especially loved the relationship between the boy and the father who raised him and was touched by the stories told, but what elevated it to 4 1/2 stars was the author's use of words - pure poetry. ( )
  njinthesun | Aug 18, 2018 |
This is probably one of the ten best, it not THE best book I've ever read! Words cannot express just how wonderful it is. The language that Richard Wagamese uses is spare, but so descriptive. His descriptions of the scenery in and around northern BC, took my breath away, just like the actual scenery does every time I see it. Franklin is 16 years old when we meet him. He lives on a remote farm with his guardian who we only know as "the old man" up until the end of the book. Franklin's only memory is of this farm and this man. He does have a father who he has seen on occasion, but usually his father is drunk when he sees him. He has never known his mother. But "the old man", who is not Indian, has tried to teach Franklin Indian ways and life survival skills. Franklin's values reflect this. He believes in hard work, simple food, finding happiness in the outdoors, and honest, straight-forward people. He admits to himself that he never took to schooling, and that he has learned everything he needs to know about farming, nature, solid and honest values, hunting and fishing from the "old man". Then Franklin's father asks him to take him to where he believes will be his last resting place. After a lifetime of hard drinking, he is dying, and he wants to leave this earth on his own terms. He wants a warrior's resting place - out in the wide open with the sun rising to the east. On this journey, his father tells Franklin about his own life, and also tells him about Franklin's mother about whom Franklin knows nothing. The book reveals so many life lessons, and in language so beautiful, that it took my breath away. As Franklin and his father journey through rugged and beautiful backcountry, they are also journeying into the past. Franklin and his father both find love, forgiveness and redemption on this epic journey - an ending as well as a beginning for a dying father and a young man who needs to learn about his father's past before he can grow up to be a man. "Franklin wondered how he would look years on, and what effect this history would have on him. His life was built on the stories of vague ghosts." Loved this book! It was absolutely amazing! CanLit at it's very best. ( )
  Romonko | Apr 3, 2018 |
Such an incredibly beautiful story and writing.

How did I not previously know of this author? Now he is gone but I shall read everything he has ever written. ( )
  Jolynne | Mar 20, 2018 |
Surprised by all the positive reviews. Despite all the positive reviews I couldn't quite understand the love people have for this. The premise sounded very interesting: a young Native (although on the cover flap it says Indian) man is summoned by his father (who is dying) to learn about his father, his own past, and why his father essentially abandoned him to be pretty much raised by a white man. We follow these two on their journey and learn along with Franklin (who has skills in surviving and living off the land) about his father and his past.
 
It's my understanding that this may be at least somewhat autobiographical in nature since the author had been in several foster homes and eventually adopted by a family. And yet, I couldn't get into this. Initially the book seemed promising (if a bit confusing by referring to "the kid," "the old man," etc. and rather sparse in terms of who these people were and why we were dropped into the book like this. But it just dragged on and on. Normally historical fiction (especially if it's based off the author's personal experiences) are works I really enjoy, but this definitely wasn't one of them.
 
The life story of Eldon (Franklin's father) didn't really bring any sort of emotional response from me. I certainly can't identify with one of these men's experiences, but the author didn't really do his job in getting me to care to find to find out more about Eldon, why we needed to know what happened next, how this would affect Franklin, what was Franklin supposed to get out of it, etc.
 
I'm not sure if my perception is being affected by the fact that this is the first book by Wagamese that I've read. I've had his 'Indian Horse' on my list of books to read for awhile, but this popped up in my library and I snatched it up. I'll still read 'Indian Horse' but I'm not sure I'll be as eager.
 
Recommend the library for this one. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
I feel like this is equal parts a cop-out and the highest praise I can give when I say that I don't know how to review this book. There isn't anything I could possibly say here that would capture the beauty and the pain that Medicine Walk portrays.

So, I guess I'll say this:

This is a book that I had to read slowly -- to savour the writing style and to process what was happening. It's vivid, and brutal, and heartbreak, and so, so, so amazing.

This is a book that I'll be recommending, and an author that I'll be reading more of.

I received a free copy of Medicine Walk from the publisher through Goodreads. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
 
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Epigraph
Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait, 
sleepless.
- through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.

- William Carlos Williams, "A Sort of a Song"
Dedication
For my sons, Joshua Richard Wagamese and Jason Schaffer
First words
He walked the old mare out of the pen and led her to the gate that opened out into the field.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 077108918X, Hardcover)

  
By the celebrated author of Canada Reads Finalist Indian Horse, a stunning new novel that has all the timeless qualities of a classic, as it tells the universal story of a father/son struggle in a fresh, utterly memorable way, set in dramatic landscape of the BC Interior. For male and female readers equally, for readers of Joseph Boyden, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas King, Russell Banks and general literary.
      Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He's sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they've shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son's duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.
     What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon's end. From a poverty-stricken childhood, to the Korean War, and later the derelict houses of mill towns, Eldon relates both the desolate moments of his life and a time of redemption and love and in doing so offers Frank a history he has never known, the father he has never had, and a connection to himself he never expected.
     A novel about love, friendship, courage, and the idea that the land has within it powers of healing, Medicine Walk reveals the ultimate goodness of its characters and offers a deeply moving and redemptive conclusion.
     Wagamese's writing soars and his insight and compassion are matched by his gift of communicating these to the reader.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:17 -0400)

Set in the dramatic landscape of the BC Interior, 16 year-old Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon, a man he barely knows. The rare moments they have shared trouble Frank, but, he answers the call, a son's duty to a father. He finds Eldon dying of liver failure after years of heavy drinking. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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