Monday, March 17, 2008

As long as the grass is green and the water runs

Four old Native American men (or are they women?) have disappeared from a mental institution. The director of the facility seems concerned that there is more to their disappearance than meets the eye (to the amusement of his colleagues), but as events unfold the reader begins to agree with the harried director. The escapees refer to themselves as the Lone Ranger, Hawkeye, Ishmael and Robinson Crusoe, and they're on their way to "fix" the world. Coyote occasionally joins them. I love coyote!

Then there are the characters who come from a Blackfoot reserve in Alberta, Canada. They are all looking for something in their lives (love, work, education, etc.), and they all seem to have gotten lost along the way. Luckily for them (maybe), the Lone Ranger and his (her?) crew are on their way to Canada, and they intend to fix things up a bit. But when Coyote gets involved, who knows what can happen?

Interspersed throughout the narrative are tellings of Changing Woman or First Woman, Coyote, and characters from Judeo-Christian traditions, which are at times hilarious and at others poignant. The stories are varied but relate the same general events with the same general theme. Contrasting with these stories are images from Hollywood western films and western novels, along with all their awful stereotypes of native peoples.

It's difficult to convey the mood of this novel - it is extremely funny in places, made me angry in others, and at times brought tears to my eyes. It is a patchwork quilt of a book, with a piece here, a scene there, and a bit of a story here, and together they form an unforgettable tale that left me feeling that, for a while at least. all was right with the world.

Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King (Bantam, 1994)

Other blog review:

So Many Precious Books

12 comments:

  1. This sounds like a complete original book-wise. And what a beautiful cover!

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  2. I had already added this one to the wishlist the other day thinking that it was written by Charles de Lint ;) But it sounded so great that I kept it on there and your review convinces me that I'll like it! I can see why de Lint would be a fan of his!

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  3. Cath - my copy did not, unfortunately, have this beautiful cover. But it was certainly an interesting and original novel!

    Chris - I will be looking forward to hearing what you think of it when you read it. And I'm glad you added it to your list, even if it was through my mistake! ;-)

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  4. That sounds like an interesting mix of things, I will keep a look out for it. I love the cover as well.

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  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one :) You're right that it's a patchwork quilt of a book. The story goes in so many different directions at the same time. And yet he manages to make it work just fine.

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  6. Rhinoa - it was a very interesting mix, and a nice change in perspective.

    Nymeth - I enjoyed it a lot! And it was fun to see how it all came together so successfully.

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  7. I really like the cover. I know a little about all kinds of mythology and I have to admit Coyote sounds like an interesting character is he real person in the book or the michevious god?

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  8. What an incredible-sounding book! I must add it to my wishlist at once!

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  9. Ladytink - Coyote is a god/character, but unfortunately for my tastes, he was peripheral (his presence, but not his influence!) in the novel. I would have loved to see more of him in the book. He is one of my favorite characters in general, though. Have you read Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore? It's hilarious!

    I'm glad you're going to read it, Heather! I look forward to reading your review

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  10. Well to be fair, adding it to my wishlist in no way guarantees it'll get read soon. I have nine pages of Amazon wishlist. =}

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  11. I've heard a lot about Christopher Moore but I haven't yet got around to reading anything by him. He sounds like a good author though!

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  12. Heather - I'm the same way, so I know just what you mean! Still, I'm sure you'll enjoy it when you get around to it. :-)

    Ladytink - he is one of my favorites. Very funny with a twisted sense of humor and great characters, as well as unconventional plotlines that always tickle me and leave me grinning.

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