One Story, One Song

Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre (PGW/Perseus, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $16.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-77162-080-2
In this collection of brief essays, Wagamese (Medicine Walk), an Ojibwe journalist, author, and poet, reflects on matters including climate change, Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, growing up as a First Nations boy in Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s, homelessness, alcohol addiction, and simple pleasures such as walking in the woods with his dog. All of the reflections have a conversational and folksy tone to them, and the more politically and socially charged ones skillfully avoids the self-righteousness that sometimes accompanies such messages. Even when dealing with dispiriting topics, Wagamese expresses hopefulness without sounding naive. The book is loosely divided into four sections based on the four cardinal directions and points on the traditional Native medicine wheel: east for humility, south for trust, west for introspection, and north for wisdom. The way Wagamese uses these divisions feels arbitrary; the book's sections overlap considerably in both content and sentiment. However, the eloquence that has made Wagamese one of Canada's foremost First Nations storytellers and writers largely quiets any qualms one might have about the book's structure. This is an uplifting collection that readers will peruse thoughtfully and revisit many times. John Pearce and Chris Casuccio, Westwood Creative Artists. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 201 pages - 978-1-55365-506-0
Ebook - 121 pages - 978-1-55365-643-2
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