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Truth and Bright Water (1999)

by Thomas King

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2037106,215 (3.93)15
Thomas King is a writer of lyrical, comic poignancy, and a best-selling author in Canada. Of his latest novel, Newsday wrote, "Thomas King has quietly and gorgeously done it again". Truth & Bright Water tells of a summer in the life of Tecumseh and Lum, young Native-American cousins coming of age in the Montana town of Truth, and the Bright Water Reserve across the river in Alberta. It opens with a mysterious woman with a suitcase, throwing things into the river -- then jumping in herself. Tecumseh and Lum go to help, but she and her truck have disappeared. Other mysteries puzzle Tecumseh: whether his mom will take his dad back; if his rolling-stone aunt is home to stay; why no one protects Lum from his father's rages. Then Tecumseh gets a job helping an artist -- Bright Water's most famous son -- with the project of a lifetime. As Truth and Bright Water prepare for the Indian Days festival, their secrets come together in a climax of tragedy, reconciliation, and love.… (more)
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I think I picked this up for the cover. I'm two chapters in and not sure I'll finish or not - depends on if it gets more 'yucky.' There's already a gun, alcohol, and references to children being beaten. Sorry; I just don't need to read about those kinds of struggles.

Ok, did finish:

Ack. Good thing it was short. I was paying attention, and I still don't know what was going on. But that's maybe ok, because they're all so wrapped up in themselves they don't communicate or care about what's going on with each other anyway. I guess it's just too *L*iterary or something for me. Personally I prefer characters who face their challenges, who at least try to grow, or at the very least try not to raise their kids to the same misery that they're living.

And so far as the yuck factor - it kept just on the safe side of my level of tolerance. Probably totally fine for most people.

Oh, to clarify the star rating - I would have given it two stars except I'm just enchanted by Monroe's current pieces, the kite & platform, the hidden church, and the iron buffalo



( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Thomas King is that rare writer capable of not only telling a compelling, interesting story, but of seamlessly marrying that to literary devices which, like a painter who understands the medium, is capable of allowing the transfer of light off and through opaque and transparent pigments, creating depth where before there was only two dimensions.

Truth and Bright Water is a story of restoration, reparation, relocation of both the body and the spirit. It follows the lives of a two young boys, and an artist who restores paintings. And it is so much more than that.

In weaving together the narratives of these people, King creates a remarkable, sustained metaphor wherein a church is restored by the artist, returning it to the land by painting it to blend into the landscape around it, yet the church's interior, like a Tardis, remains, in this case the habitation and, if you will, the spirit of the artist who has taken an edifice of misery to the First Nations and made it part of his own self. It is a brilliant bit of writing.

Highly recommended. ( )
  fiverivers | Jul 28, 2015 |
Truth is the railroad town on one side of the river, in the United States; Bright Water is the reserve on the other side of the river, in Canada.

Once there had been a plan to build a bridge, but something went awry. What remains is barely recognizable, and even if the components had once been solid, they, too, are now ruined.

Thomas King does not shy away from talk of devastation and loss, fractured promises and decay. In Truth and Bright Water, hearts are broken and people disappear.

A reader might even say that the narrative is framed by tragedies. But a reader would also have to say that the tragedies do not stand alone.

In the hands of another writer, this might have an air of a conscious balancing act. But in Thomas King’s narrative, it feels as though there is something larger that acts as a natural counterweight, not a specific narrative device, but an overarching sense of grace.

Even on the first page, there is a hint of this in the description of the bridge and the landscape that surrounds its remnants. “But if you walk down into the coulees and stand in the shadows of the deserted columns and the concrete arches, you can look up through the open planking and the rusting webs of iron mesh, and see the sky.”

More, if you're interested, here. ( )
1 vote buriedinprint | Apr 9, 2011 |
Truth & Bright Water is more about a Native teenage boy named Tecumseh than it is about the small towns of Truth and Bright Water which he calls home. Tecumseh is fifteen and life for him consists of keeping peace with his separated parents, keeping his abused cousin company, learning how to drive, trying to find a job, understanding what it means to be Indian during tourist season, unraveling the mysteries surrounding his aunt, and finding things like a baby's skull with his dog, Soldier. While Tecumseh is an average kid his community is anything but. Truth & Bright Water opens with Tecumseh and his cousin, Lum, spying on a woman who not only empties a suitcase over a cliff, but appears to have jumped off after it. Was it suicide? Then there is Monroe Swimmer, a famous artist returned home, who lives in a church and has big plans to make said church disappear. And what of the baby's skull found with a ribbon threaded through its eye holes? ( )
  SeriousGrace | Apr 8, 2010 |
Fantastic story. Very personal. The characters are brought to life with great care and precision. The sense of estrangement between them and their community is powerfully done. Thomas King is awesome! ( )
  duckwood | Dec 31, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
What's most frustrating about ''Truth & Bright Water'' is that while King may fall short in fashioning fully rounded human characters, he knows how to render a starkly beautiful landscape in words, describing prairies and bluffs and rushing rivers with vivid clarity. He also has a remarkable knack for using animals in a story, for giving them distinctive personalities and specific, although not dully predictable, roles to play.
 
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For my mother.
The dissertation was never enough.
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The river begins in ice.
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Thomas King is a writer of lyrical, comic poignancy, and a best-selling author in Canada. Of his latest novel, Newsday wrote, "Thomas King has quietly and gorgeously done it again". Truth & Bright Water tells of a summer in the life of Tecumseh and Lum, young Native-American cousins coming of age in the Montana town of Truth, and the Bright Water Reserve across the river in Alberta. It opens with a mysterious woman with a suitcase, throwing things into the river -- then jumping in herself. Tecumseh and Lum go to help, but she and her truck have disappeared. Other mysteries puzzle Tecumseh: whether his mom will take his dad back; if his rolling-stone aunt is home to stay; why no one protects Lum from his father's rages. Then Tecumseh gets a job helping an artist -- Bright Water's most famous son -- with the project of a lifetime. As Truth and Bright Water prepare for the Indian Days festival, their secrets come together in a climax of tragedy, reconciliation, and love.

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