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Publisher's Summary

When Will returns to Medicine River, he thinks he is simply attending his mother’s funeral. He doesn’t count on Harlen Bigbear and his unique brand of community planning. Harlen tries to sell Will on the idea of returning to Medicine River to open shop as the town’s only Native photographer. Somehow, that’s exactly what happens. 

Through Will’s gentle and humorous narrative, we come to know Medicine River, a small Albertan town bordering a Blackfoot reserve. And we meet its people: the basketball team; Louise Heavyman and her daughter, South Wing; Martha Oldcrow, the marriage doctor; Joe Bigbear, Harlen’s world-travelling, storytelling brother; Bertha Morley, who has a short fling with a Calgary dating service; and David Plume, who went to Wounded Knee. At the centre of it all is Harlen, advising and pestering, annoying and entertaining, gossiping and benevolently interfering in the lives of his friends and neighbours.

©1989, 2017 Thomas King (P)2018 Penguin Random House Canada

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-08-06

Disappointing

Most of Thomas King's works are beautiful and inspire much thinking, especially his short stories. However, Medicine River, though with its genuine characters and subtleties, does nothing to captivate me as a reader. It's as if this story was demanding me to pay attention to its endless digressions and countless characters instead of me actually wanting to do so. Medicine River suffers greatly from a lack of focus. It relies on many references of each characters made by Will to interest the reader; because of how numerous the cast of flat characters are, few are given appropriate interactions to flesh them out. None of the characters go through much of a change. The story does well to warn people to not just "go with the flow" with everything as Will does, and perhaps actually take a stand to lead a purposeful life. The narration was decent. A tad too monotone at some points when Will should have more emotion (Though I guess it does somewhat fit Will's lifeless personality).