Truth and Bright Water
 
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Truth and Bright Water [Hardcover]

Thomas King
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)


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Book Description

November 2000
Thomas King is a writer of plainspoken poetry and comic poignancy. His new novel is a warm and magical story of family secrets and growing up, of a summer in the life of Truth and Bright Water, towns separated by a river that runs between Montana and an Alberta Indian reservation. It opens with a mysterious woman throwing things into the river out of a suitcase -- then jumping in after. Tecumseh and his cousin Lum see, and go to help, but she and her truck have disappeared. Other mysteries also puzzle Tecumseh -- if his mom will take his dad back; if Auntie Cassie is home to stay this time; why no one protects Lum from his father's rages. Then Tecumseh gets a job helping an artist -- Bright Water's most famous son -- with the project of a lifetime. As Truth and Bright Water prepare for the Indian Days festival, their secrets come together in a climax of tragedy, reconciliation, and love. "King is equally at home with his vivid, often comic characters and with the vibrant natural world in which their dramas are played out." -- People

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this winning bildungsroman, King (Green Grass, Running Water) demonstrates once again his extraordinarily moving vision of contemporary Native America. The book follows the relationship between two boys, narrator Tecumseh and Lum, and the story, set in motion by a mystery, takes place among Blackfoot Indians living on the U.S./Canadian border in two towns separated by the Shield river (Truth is in Montana, and Bright Water is on an Ottawa Indian reservation). The youths witness a woman dump the contents of a suitcase off a river bluff and then jump into the abyss herself, but by the time they get to the spot, she's nowhere to be seen. Other mysteries are created by significant homecomings: Tecumseh's free-spirited, world-traveling Aunt Cassie is in town, but no one will tell Tecumseh why; and "famous Indian artist" Monroe Swimmer buys the old mission church on the reservation and moves in. Swimmer is a trickster who paints his hilltop abode in trompe l'oeil clouds and sky and sets artificial buffalo around it, so that to the naked eye below, it's almost invisible. Closer in tone to King's debut, Medicine River, than to the antics of Green Grass, Running Water, this book exhibits the author's keen powers of observation and captures the essence of reservation life with dark humor and cutting satire. But the wry humor mediates and belies desperation, with 15-year-old Tecumseh fixated on getting his mother to reconcile with his dreamy but shiftless father. All plots come together, some in tragedy, and all mysteries are solved as Indian Days approaches. This sharp-edged novel is also King's sweetest; there's plenty of magic, yet it's also his most realistic book thus far. Readers familiar with King's work will revel in it, while new readers will discover his extraordinary narrative power. Agent, Lisa Bankoff, ICM. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Truth is a railroad town in the United States, and Bright Water, an Indian reserve right across the river in Canada. Tecumseh is a 15-year-old who regularly crosses between the two with his dog, Soldier, and his cousin and almost constant companion, Lum. The novel is written in the first person, and the action takes place during a few short weeks in the summer. "Indian Days" are coming to Bright Water, attracting tourists from around the world. Vagabond aunt Cassie has arrived for one of her brief visits, and "famous Indian artist" Monroe Swimmer has also returned home. One evening, the cousins watch as a woman conducts a strange ritual at "the Horns" (twin stone pillars on the American side). She dances, sings, and throws something into the river and then jumps in after it. Later, Soldier retrieves a child-size human skull from the river, but there is no sign of the woman. Her story is just one of the mysteries Tecumseh hopes to solve this summer. His quest to discover family secrets and find his place in the tribal society will take him through immense changes before "Indian Days" draw to an end. King (Green Grass, Running Water) is perhaps Canada's best-known Native writer. His rich storytelling recommends this book for public libraries, as well as for Native writing collections in academic libraries.DDebbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community Coll.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Pr; 1st American ed edition (November 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871138182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871138187
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas King is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter, and photographer. His many books include the novels Medicine River; Green Grass, Running Water; Truth and Bright Water; two short story collections, One Good Story, That One (Minnesota, 2013) and A Short History of Indians in Canada (Minnesota, 2013); nonfiction, The Truth About Stories (Minnesota, 2005); and the children's books A Coyote Columbus Story, Coyote Sings to the Moon, Coyote's New Suit, and A Coyote Solstice Tale. King edited the literary anthology All My Relations and wrote and starred in the popular CBC radio series, The Dead Dog Café. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award (2003), and was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2004. He has taught Native literature and history and creative writing at the University of Lethbridge, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Guelph and is now retired and lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one gem of a book... November 21, 2000
By Caz
Format:Hardcover
For those who don't know this author, Thomas King is a Native American/Greek Canadian who daylights as an English Professor at the University of Guelph. What he really shines at, though, is writing fiction. And he's as genuine a voice in literature as the Native population could ask for.
This book, 'Truth and Bright Water' is a fabulous read - I was hooked in from the first sentence and didn't put the book down until I'd finished it. Nine hours of marathon reading, in which I was totally absorbed in the lives of the characters.
Thomas has an outstanding ability to take his word arrangements and create pictures/emotions for his readers; I could actually envision the landscapes he described, and astutely knew the emotions and perceptions he was calling forth from his characters.
Tecumseh (especially) and Lum are two teenage cousins who roll through life - seemingly on the fringe but fully embroiled in the events and lives of those around them. For Tecumseh, there's enlightenment and understanding, for Lum despair and alienation. The supporting cast is sometimes a downer, but many of the characters are wacky and hilarious. Another 'main' character in the book is Tecumseh's dog, Soldier, and the dog serves as a picture of the heart of Tecumseh's people, as does Tecumseh himself. Though their way of life was crushed in many ways, their hope, bravery, and stalwart endurance continues on.
King is a phenomenal observer of human character and what makes humanity tick - and this discernment shines through every word of the book. As well, he turns society's impression of 'a dumb Indian' on its heels and reveals the complex insight and wisdom that Natives have and hold. Their genuine character shines through brilliantly in each and every person featured in the book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indian History Within Narratored Stories January 13, 2001
Format:Hardcover
The novel gives us two levels of story. One is narrated by a teenage boy, Tecumseh. The other is a reflection on Indian history. The narrator's name should give the reader a clue. The Cherokees who show up for "Indian Days" (also July 1, Canada Day) are all real characters who lived through the Indian removals we know as "the trail of tears." In Bright Water, they stay at the "Happy Trails Trailer Park." The figure of Monroe Swimmer evokes both President Monroe who initiated the removals policy, and nineteenth-century Cherokee medicine man, Swimmer. Monroe Swimmer is an artist who paints the white men out of the landscape; literally a reversal of Indian removals, with the Indian artist being an active agent this time. There's lots more going on; Geronimo and Truth or Consequences NM and General Nelson Miles for instance. See a forthcoming article in "Canadian Literature" by Robin Ridington for lots more.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Superb Story from Thomas King November 3, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Truth and Bright Water tells the story of one summer as witnessed by the fifteen-year-old son, Tecumseh, of estranged parents, Helen and Elvin. Tecumseh watches as the summer unfolds and the Indians from the towns of Truth (on the American side of the Shield River) and Bright Water (in Canada) prepare for the annual festival, Indian Days. Truth and Bright Water is the story of two homecomings: the reserve's most famous resident, Monroe Swimmer, and Cassie, Helen's sister. Monroe returns to "restore" the reserve, and Cassie comes back to make amends for past mistakes. On the verge of young adulthood, Tecumseh attempts to understand the complexities of life and searches for answers to his questions: why have Monroe and Cassie returned; will his father and mother reconcile; why is no one able to help his cousin, Lum, sort through his anger, pain, and confusion over his mother's death and his father's continued physical abuse. Tecumseh oversees all the events of the summer: the preparation for Indian Days; Lum's intense training for the foot-race he plans to win; his father's struggle to make his carpentry talent pay off and to win back Tecumseh's mother while also sliding further back into alcoholism. He watches Monroe's interaction (or lack thereof) with the Indians on the reserve, and he painfully learns that life is filled with loss, love, tragedy, and continuance. King's amazing gift with language and imagery is one for the reader to truly savor. King has said that he wants to write stories that deal with that range of human emotions and experience all people share. Truth and Bright Water is not the first novel in which he has done so. Readers should also check out "Medicine River" and the more funny but difficult "Green Grass, Running Water." This novel is more than just a coming-of-age story about Tecumseh, but an in-depth look at the way lives are led and how truth is perceived. An excellent addition to King's growing list of stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story that'll capture your attention... August 29, 2002
By Caz
Format:Paperback
For those who don't know this author, Thomas King is an English Professor at the University of Guelph. And he's as genuine a voice in literature as the Native population could ask for.
This book, 'Truth and Bright Water' is a fabulous read - I was hooked in from the first sentence and didn't put the book down until I'd finished it; the reader is completely absorbed in/by the lives of the characters.
Thomas has an outstanding ability to take his pennings and create rich and dense pictures/emotions for his readers; I could actually envision the landscapes he described, and astutely knew the emotions and perceptions he was ascribing to his characters.
Tecumseh and Lum are two teenage cousins who are rolling through life - seemingly on the fringe but fully involved in the complex events and lives of those around them. For Tecumseh, there's enlightenment and understanding, for Lum despair and alienation. Many of the supporting cast members are wacky and hilarious. Though their way of life was crushed in many ways, their hope, bravery, and stalwart endurance continues on, and such is richly displayed in the story of these two teenage boys.
King is an astute observer of humanity's workings and what makes people (and people groups) tick - such discernment shines through every word of the book. As well, he turns society's impression of 'a dumb Indian' on its heels and reveals the complex insight and wisdom that Natives have and hold. Their genuine character shines through brilliantly in each and every person featured in the book.
King's writings are a fabulous read - poignant, entertaining, provoking, prophetic, and insightful. All the best of what the reader could hope for. This title gets two big thumbs up from me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and funny at the same time.
The author is a wordsmith with a very droll sense of humor. His descriptions of people and settings make everything come alive. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jean Hess Keller
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST.....FROM ANY POINT OF VIEW.
EVERYBODY OUGHT TO READ IT! WILL OPEN THINE EYES..................AND I HAVE TO ADMIT, I DID NOT FIGURE IT OUT! Read more
Published 6 months ago by Violet VisionsPhyllis von Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars great little book!
It's fun and interesting and thought provoking. I very much like his way of description and insight. Am looking forward to reading more of Thomas King!
Published 10 months ago by Rita M. Skinner
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!!!
This novel is definitely an eye-opener, King brings his readers on quite the journey through this book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by nicole
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas King tells another heartfelt story. I can always find what I am...
I love this book. If you care at all about Native American Indian culture, you will be captivated. Keep those Thomas King works in stock, please.
Published 17 months ago by Jo Ann French
3.0 out of 5 stars a pleasant but unsatisfying read
Similar to what 2 other reviewers mentioned, I found this book to be nice on landscape description but was puzzled that almost none of the key threads running through this story... Read more
Published on March 6, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet symphony of words
Pulling the old book off the shelf, I remember the faint memory of when this bookI was read to me. Reading it again refreshes my memory of the times I sat on the bed, listening to... Read more
Published on November 29, 2001 by Woo Woo
2.0 out of 5 stars Mystical or Merely Muddy?
This novel didn't work well for me. I agree with the other reviewer's praise for Thomas King's great way with language and description. Read more
Published on July 5, 2001 by Lee Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Another triumph
Quieter than _Green Grass Running Water_, this one hits just as hard. How does Tom King manage to be such a brilliantly complicated master of The Novel (capital letters), while... Read more
Published on January 4, 2001
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