Strong, sassy women and hard-luck, hard-headed men, all searching for the middle ground between Native American tradition and the modern world, perform an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance in this magical, rollicking tale by award-winning author Thomas King. Alberta, Eli, Lionel and others are coming to the Blackfoot reservation for the Sun Dance. There they will encounter four Indian elders and their companion, the trickster Coyote—and nothing in the small town of Blossom will be the same again. . . .
Fresh, inventive, funny and intriguing, this latest novel from King ( Medicine River ) is an imaginative exploration of contemporary Native American culture. The plot revolves around the escape from a mental hospital of four very old Indians called Ishmael, Hawkeye, Robinson Crusoe and the Lone Ranger. These, however, are no ordinary natives. They may be the last survivors of the Indians interned at Fort Marion in Florida in the 19th century. Or perhaps they are the first human beings, as described in tribal creation myths. Their repeated breakouts--37 to date--have coincided with disasters: the 1929 stock market crash, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, etc. Their mission this time brings them into the lives of an eccentric Canadian Blackfoot family: Lionel Red Dog, who sells TV sets and has no ambition; his sister Latisha, who owns a restaurant that bilks thrill-seeking tourists by purporting to serve them dog meat; Uncle Eli Stands Alone, a former university professor who is determined to prevent the operation of a dam on Indian land; and Charlie Looking Bear, a smarmy lawyer who works for the company opposing Eli's cause. Wavering emotionally between Lionel and Charlie is Alberta Frank, who dates both of them and wants a baby but knows that neither man is husband material. King, a professor of Native American studies at the University of Minnesota, skillfully interweaves Native American and EuroAmerican literatures, exploring the truths of each. He mixes satire, myth and magic into a complex story line that moves smartly from Canada to Wounded Knee to Hollywood, and to a place beyond time where God and the native trickster, Coyote, converse. With this clever, vastly entertaining novel, he establishes himself firmly as one of the first rank of contemporary Native American writers--and as a gifted storyteller of universal relevance. Author tour. .
One of my all-time favourites
I first read this a few years ago in hard copy. I loaned it away and never got it back. I’ve repurchased for my iPad. King has such a unique way of telling a story that is wry and clever.