Review of Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water

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Author: Ron Welburn
Editor: Janet Witalec
Date: 2003
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Book review; Critical essay
Length: 1,046 words

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[(review date summer 1996) In the following review, Welburn examines how King explores the Native American point of view in Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water.]

Leslie Silko's novel Ceremony opens with the wisdom that stories "are all we have to fight off illness and death." Native American fictionists have abided by their traditions in storytelling at least since N. Scott Momaday's pivotal House Made of Dawn (1968) and certainly before that. With two dissimilar novels, Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King reaffirms the inextricable influence of traditional narratives and characters on contemporary Native writing. Set in Alberta, Canada's Blackfeet country, both novels are about communities that need their individuals. Will of Medicine River and Eli Stands Alone of Green Grass, Running Water are the homecoming characters, though only Will would approximate protagonist status. Both novels share other elements: independent professional women who desire a child without the encumbrance of a husband; men and women on a vague search for affection and love; and trickster figures--Harlan Bigbear, who manipulates Will's life, in the first book and Coyote, four very old Indian men, and a psychiatric assistant in the second.

The character affinities between the books pretty much end there, and only in the broadest sense do the novels bear any structural common ground. Medicine River's Will, a son of the late Rose Horse Capture, is non-status and thus not entitled to live on the Blood reserve (the Bloods are one of three tribes of the Blackfeet Nation). He is a modest man in his early forties, somewhat...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1100048757