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.
Canadian author and memoirist Wagamese (Indian Horse) has penned a complex, rugged, and moving father-son novel. Franklin Starlight, a 16-year-old Ojibway Indian, is summoned to the Canadian mill town of Parson's Gap by his alcoholic father, Eldon Starlight, to discuss an important matter. Franklin goes reluctantly, since he has a dysfunctional and distant relationship with his dad. (Franklin was raised by a rancher identified only as "the old man.") Eldon persuades Franklin to take him on a 40-mile journey to an isolated ridge to die (he suffers from a cirrhotic liver) so that he can be buried "in the warrior way." Wagamese deftly weaves in the backstory as Eldon, racked with heartache and horror, relates different episodes from his past (when he's lucid enough). Initially, Franklin is unsympathetic to his father's plight, which seems to be caused by a lifetime of boozing and womanizing. However, as Eldon tells his tales, including that of his harrowing ordeal in the Korean War, which precipitated his chronic drinking, Franklin comes to see his father in a new light. Wagamese's muscular prose and spare tone complement this gem of a narrative, which examines the bond between father and son.
Love it will reread again.
Who am I to critique an artist?
When an artist lays their soul out in public for the world to see, who am I, completely lacking in such talent, to critique their work and their soul?
The story is old. A son comes to terms with his father. A deeply flawed father. A father shaped by history and by his own failings.A son denied his history and his culture.
In that story, told from a fresh perspective, we glimpse something of ourselves, something of the author and something of Canada's indigenous culture.
I am indebted to the author for his sharing of his soul and his culture with me.
K Hugh Ham
An uncommonly good book. A book that anyone with life experience can relate to. Deep & heartfelt. It reminded me of times sitting on wind swept ridges and the beauty and truth that I found there.