Summary and book reviews of Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk

by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese X
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2015, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2016, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

Written in luminous prose and infused by an uncommonly rich sense of place, Medicine Walk is a stunning achievement.

When Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, he has mixed emotions. Raised by the old man he was entrusted to soon after his birth, Frank is haunted by the brief and troubling moments he has shared with his father, Eldon. When he finally travels by horseback to town, he finds Eldon on the edge of death, decimated from years of drinking.

The two undertake a difficult journey into the mountainous backcountry, in search of a place for Eldon to die and be buried in the warrior way. As they travel, Eldon tells his son the story of his own life - from an impoverished childhood to combat in the Korean War and his shell-shocked return. Through the fog of pain, Eldon relates to his son these desolate moments, as well as his life's fleeting but nonetheless crucial moments of happiness and hope, the sacrifices made in the name of love. And in telling his story, Eldon offers his son a world the boy has never seen, a history he has never known.

Chapter One

He walked the old mare out of the pen and led her to the gate that opened out into the field. There was a frost from the night before, and they left tracks behind them. He looped the rope around the middle rail of the fence and turned to walk back to the barn for the blanket and saddle. The tracks looked like inkblots in the seeping melt, and he stood for a moment and tried to imagine the scenes they held. He wasn't much of a dreamer though he liked to play at it now and then. But he could only see the limp grass and mud of the field and he shook his head at the folly and crossed the pen and strode through the open black maw of the barn door.

The old man was there milking the cow and he turned his head when he heard him and squirted a stream of milk from the teat.

"Get ya some breakfast," he said.

"Ate already," the kid said.

"Better straight from the tit."

"There's better tits."

The old man cackled and went back to the milking. The kid stood...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The characters are expertly portrayed as well, with the two protagonists being drawn with both a believability and a complexity that makes them feel real. Another aspect of the book's appeal is the choice and development of its themes. In addition to exploring the relationship between father and son, the metaphorical journey toward one's mortality, and the importance of living in harmony with nature, the author takes great pains to illustrate the relevance of the overall story of one's life. I highly recommend Medicine Walk to anyone who enjoys reading high-quality literary fiction; in my opinion, it just doesn't get any better than this.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review (752 words).

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Media Reviews

National Post
Medicine Walk is a masterpiece, a work of art that explores human interconnectedness with a level of artistry so superb that the personal becomes eternal.

Library Journal
A soothingly moving novel of rapprochement and family roots for all readers.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Wagamese has penned a complex, rugged, and moving father-son novel. His muscular prose and spare tone complement this gem of a narrative.

Kirkus Reviews
A powerful novel of hard men in hard country reminiscent of Jim Harrison's Legends of the Fall.

The Globe and Mail
Wagamese understands that the stories we don't tell are as important as the ones we do .... But Medicine Walk is also testament to the redemptive power of love and compassion.

Author Blurb Louise Erdrich
Richard Wagamese is a born storyteller.

Author Blurb Joseph Boyden
Richard Wagamese has become a master. This brilliant novel (Medicine Walk) is his heart song, his crowning achievement thus far.

Author Blurb Jane Urquhart
A deeply felt and profoundly moving novel, written in the kind of sure, clear prose that brings to mind the work of the great North American masters like Steinbeck. But Wagamese's voice and vision are also completely his own, as is the important and powerful story he has to tell.

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

Medcine Walk
In this heartbreaking story about redemption, forgiveness and past regrets, Wagamese writes a magnificent story. His descriptions of the lives of Franklin, his father and the old man are poignant, at times heartbreaking but show a deep and abiding ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

A Medicine Walk

Many cultures have a tradition of using a solitary walk to help individuals achieve their inner goals, whether it be deepening their spirituality, finding insights to problems, or helping determine a path in life. Some Native American tribes in particular, encourage adolescents to go on a "medicine walk" to obtain inner peace and establish a closer relationship with nature.

A Medicine Walk through the woods At its simplest, a medicine walk is open time and unplanned travel in a natural place – aimless wandering. Most who advocate this type of activity recommend that it take at least one full day, occur as far away from humanity as possible, and often endorse fasting to help improve personal clarity. It should be approached without having any set goal other than...

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