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One Native Life

de Richard Wagamese

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855245,916 (4.42)8
One Native Life is a look back down the road Wagamese has travelled. It's about the things he's learned as a human being, a man and an Ojibway in his fifty-two years on the planet. Whether he's writing about making bannock, playing baseball, listening to the wind, meeting Johnny Cash or running away with the circus, these are stories told in a healing spirit. This is a book about roots: uncovering them, tending them, watching life spring up all around you. It is also a book about Canada. Acceptance is an Aboriginal principle, and Wagamese has come to see that we are all neighbours here. Once we understand that, he says, we realize it's all one great, grand tale.… (mais)
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Exibindo 5 de 5
This memoir features so incredibly painful stories that calling it "beautiful" doesn't set expectations right. Still, many of the short stories contain exactly that, mesmerizing descriptions of moments in Richard Wagamese's life. It's disturbing and extraordinary what he had to go through and how he was able to stand up again and again against the odds facing him.

The audiobook is narrated in a lively, yet often soothing voice. It took me a while to get used to the narrator, and then I loved his style! ( )
  readalicious | Jan 7, 2021 |
It began similar to the last short essay memoir about nature I read, but then it went to be more about short memory stories about his broken life and it's healing. nothing wrong with that, but it wasn't really anything new or more profound. perhaps it was when the book was written - I am aware it was published something like ten years ago. It was interesting to read it juxtaposed with Here I Am. Both books are about a culture nearly wiped out by another, (Jewish vs First Nations) but the two cultures on the whole approach their history and future SO differently, as least that is how the books present it. One is"Ha! We are still here and we are survivors and you won't lick us!" The other is "Our ways of doing things were right but you messed it up." At least, that is what I felt as I read the books. Not my fav book. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
Richard Wagamese's book is one that is inspirational, for both Aboriginals and the rest of us, I think. I really admired his remarkable quest for knowledge -- of his Indian culture, of music and so many other areas. His message that traditions ground us -- all of us -- and that we need to "bring back the living room" and reconnect with each other are so true. I am humbled by his generosity of spirit, of seeking not only to be understood but to understand. This is remarkable given the history of Aboriginal people in Canada, and it is something I've seen in many Aboriginal people I've worked with over many years. Sadly, it is often missing in politicians on both sides of the issue, but it is a key ingredient to achieving lasting reconciliation.

All this, plus the writing is beautiful! ( )
1 vote LynnB | Sep 6, 2017 |
An autobiography of healing and acceptance told in uplifting short stories. ( )
  poetreegirl | Jun 21, 2013 |
This book came from the library but how I wish it was mine to keep forever. I will probably end up buying a copy because it has struck a chord with me like very few books have. I'm sure this book will be one of my favourite reads in 2013.

I only discovered Richard Wagamese's writing because his book, Indian Horse, was chosen as one of the 5 finalists for the 2013 Canada Reads contest. Although it wasn't the book chosen by the panel I still think it is a book that every Canadian should read. And now I think that every Canadian should read One Native Life.

Wagamese was born to Ojibway residential school survivors who didn't know how to care for their children. One winter the adults went to town to sell a load of furs and forgot to come back for Richard and his 3 siblings. When the food and wood ran out the older two took the younger ones in a sleigh to Minaki, which was quite far away. Richard spent time in foster homes and then was adopted by a white family living in southern Ontario. It's hard to understand why they adopted a child that they seemed not to want. Richard ran away from home and lived on the streets or in rental accommodation while holding low paying jobs and drinking too much. One of his brothers found him through the adoption agency and he was reunited with them. After that he explored his native heritage and honed his writing craft. He has forgiven his family for the treatment he experienced with them. In this book he shares his journey and the wisdom he has learned along the way.

Many times while reading this book I recognized a kinship with Richard. I marked some passages that really spoke to me and I'll quote 3 of them although there were many more:
"The sky that traces the curve of the mountain today is an impossible blue. Cloudless, it is at once near enough to touch and as distant as a star. You could fall into it. That's how it feels."
In this next passage he recounts learning how to make bannock with his mother and I instantly thought of my mother making baking powder biscuits:
"I'd been raised with the Western science that calls for precise measurements and a decisive experimental process. I clung to the security of numbers. But what my mother taught me that day had nothing to do with grams or ounces, teaspoons or cups. Instead she told me to take a couple of handfuls of flour, a splat of lard, a splotch of baking powder and a nip of salt. Then to swash it with milk or water, pat it about until it felt warm and soft, and bake it until it looked good."
In this final passage Richard talks about an interview he had with Johnny Cash and the prescription he gave for repairing the ills of modern life:
"We need to bring back the living room, he said. There needs to be a time in every home when families gather to be together, to hear each other, to see each other, to be in community. There needs to be a time when harmony rules and we fill a room with our collective thought."

I wish I could write as well as that but since I can't I'm glad that there are writers like Wagamese who can. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Apr 6, 2013 |
Exibindo 5 de 5
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One Native Life is a look back down the road Wagamese has travelled. It's about the things he's learned as a human being, a man and an Ojibway in his fifty-two years on the planet. Whether he's writing about making bannock, playing baseball, listening to the wind, meeting Johnny Cash or running away with the circus, these are stories told in a healing spirit. This is a book about roots: uncovering them, tending them, watching life spring up all around you. It is also a book about Canada. Acceptance is an Aboriginal principle, and Wagamese has come to see that we are all neighbours here. Once we understand that, he says, we realize it's all one great, grand tale.

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