Green Grass, Running Water

Green Grass, Running Water

by Thomas King


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Strong, Sassy women and hard-luck hardheaded men, all searching for the middle ground between Native American tradition and the modern world, perform an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance in this magical, rollicking tale by Cherokee author Thomas King. Alberta is a university professor who would like to trade her two boyfriends for a baby but no husband; Lionel is forty and still sells televisions for a patronizing boss; Eli and his log cabin stand in the way of a profitable dam project. These three—and others—are coming to the Blackfoot reservation for the Sun Dance and there they will encounter four Indian elders and their companion, the trickster Coyote—and nothing in the small town of Blossom will be the same again…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553373684
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/1994
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 469
Sales rank: 390,856
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Thomas King is of Cherokee, Greek, and German descent and is currently chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. His short stories have been widely published throughout the United States and Canada, and a film, based on his much acclaimed first novel Medicine River, has been made for television.

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Green Grass, Running Water 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
cattriona on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book a bit difficult to follow, but it was interesting all the same. Four Native American men escape from the local mental hospital, all bearing well-known fictional names (i.e. Robinson Crusoe), but whether they are actually really humans, or spirits or some other fantasy creation is never really clear. They interact in the ordinary lives of other Native Americans going about their day to day lives -- dating problems, working, serving dog meat to tourists as "real indian" food, etc. The author seems to have a good understanding of the culture, and blends his reality and pseudoreality well -- you're just never quite sure where the line is drawn.
bookaddict85 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Green Grass Running Water was a great read. I¿m not sure if this is for everyone, but I certainly appreciated it. The book has a great balance between humour and real life struggles for Natives today. King introduces his readers to many main and supporting characters, all of whom are struggling with life as a Blackfoot in modern Canada. The characters are trying to blend into modern day culture but also feel compelled to maintain their heritage. As much as they try to ignore their culture, it is always with them. There are many quirky characters. We have Alberta who is a university professor, with two boyfriends, refuses to get married and desperately wants to be a mother. Oh, yes the boyfriends are cousins and know about each other. Charlie is a prominent lawyer, and Lionel a television salesman. We are also introduced to Latisha who is a restaurant owner, and pretends to serve up dog meat to her customers. It seems to attract tourists. Lone Ranger, Ishmael, Robinson Crusoe and Hawkeye have run away from an institution and have vowed to fix part of the world. These four storytellers frequently interrupt each other, and blend Native American tales with Christianity in an attempt to get it right. Ahdamn meets first woman. The telling if this new creation story is hilarious. ¿Ahdam is busy. He is naming everything.You are a microwave oven, Ahdamn tells the Elk.Nope, says that Elk. Try Again.You are a garage sale, Ahdamn tells the Bear.We got to get you some glasses, says the Bear.You are a telephone book, Ahdamn tells the Cedar Tree.You¿re getting closer, says the Cedar Tree.¿ The stories keep juggling around, and each time I keep waiting to get back to the character I just read about. However, the next character is just as entrancing. I do admit, the creation story gets confusing and I did want to skip ahead. All in all, I really enjoyed it. I think everyone should try it.
tinkettleinn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Green Grass, Running Water is a post-modernist novel that deconstructs the typical master narrative structure, because it includes stories of minority experience. The events that occur within the novel seem random and unconnected, but they are all retellings of the same story¿a shared experience described from various points of view. Throughout the novel, Coyote and the narrator work to reconstruct the creation stories that try to supplant minority narratives. The creation stories are meant to force minorities to follow ¿Christian rules¿ and become characters already written into the master narrative. Coyote even asks the narrator if one of the creation stories about Changing Woman is a ¿contrary dream from the garden story¿ (162), to which the narrator replies, ¿it¿s all the same story¿ (163). No real communication occurs within the conversations between the characters in the novel, because everyone is concerned with ensuring that their own stories are told, and so they allow their own narratives to supplant those of others. No one wants to have their experiences erased or ignored, and so the conversations in the novel reveal the competing stories that try to dominate one another. Female experience is either ignored or ridiculed by an authority that wants women to become characters in its own narrative¿Alberta struggles to assert her desire for motherhood and disgust for relationships, but her narrative is not taken very seriously; Latisha is forced to listen to George belittle her culture in an effort to make himself feel superior; and Babo is treated as though she does not exist, as though her voice has no real, substantial place within the narrative. Coyote and the narrator tell different creation stories that offer women¿First Woman, Changing Woman, Thought Woman¿alternatives, different worlds for them to enter and establish their own narratives. In the garden story, First Woman decides she does not wish to be subject to a ¿stingy God,¿ so she leaves the garden to find a new world, a new story, to live in. While these variations of the creation story are all competing to be told, while Alberta and Latisha and Babo seem to be caught between two worlds and find it difficult to construct a narrative that will unite them, there is still only one story about one world, but it is meant to include the experience and creation of everything.
-Cee- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Four very old (ancient) Indian women want to fix the world - and realizing the limitations of old age, they go about it a little at a time. They are confined to a mental hospital until they need to go to work. Then, they inexplicably "escape" and go about their business. The focus is on the value of Native American culture, wacky interpretations of the story of creation, and what is most important in life. There is humor, angst, and irony. It's a book of hope, frustration, and introspection. Fun and funny.Can't say I understood all the symbolism. However, I doubt a second reading would remedy that. Even taken superficially with an appreciation of the beliefs and culture of others, this was a very enjoyable read. Recommended for something different!
lrobe190 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The plot revolves around the escape from a mental hospital of four very old Indians called Ishmael, Hawkeye, Robinson Crusoe and the Lone Ranger. These, however, are no ordinary natives. They may be the last survivors of the Indians interned at Fort Marion in Florida in the 19th century. Or perhaps they are the first human beings, as described in tribal creation myths. Their repeated breakouts--37 to date--have coincided with disasters: the 1929 stock market crash, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, etc. On the fateful day when disaffected Lionel Red Dog and his aunt stop to pick up four ancient Indian hitchhikers things begin to change for Lionel and a number of his Blackfoot neighbors. The action moves from Canada to Wounded Knee to Hollywood. As all paths converge on the reservation in time for Sun Dance, Lionel is brought back to his tribal roots by family and the powers-that-be, becoming a protector of the sacred ceremony, while Uncle Eli finally wins his one-man stand against the corporation that built a massive dam just upriver from his mother's log cabin- -with a little help from trickster Coyote, whose dancing summons an earthquake.This is a unique combination of storytelling, myth and magic, but I didn't like it that well, personally.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
An interesting and funny book that explores the personal and cultural search for an identity. Through the juxtaposition of multiple stories one can see the culture clash that drives King¿s story forward. Lionel searches for his place in a world that is pulling him in two different directions. Not only does he have the familial pressure to stay true to his heritage, he also has the societal pressure to be assimilated into the white culture, is entire life is at constant war with each other. His aunt Norma continually tells him that he should be proud of his family and where he comes from yet Lionel works as a television salesman off the reservation where he was born and his family still lives. As well as Lionel there are a host of other characters that struggle with their place in the world. While some characters thrive on the stereotypes about Indian, such as Latisha and the Dead Dog Café, others hide and attempt to run away from their past and what is ultimately their future. Along with this idea of identity problems comes the story of the four characters that are Anglo and either have a native sidekick or attempt to live the native life. These four ¿men¿, Hawkeye, Robinson Crusoe, Ishmael, and The Lone Ranger, are out to fix the world and return it to the right path. The world has gone out of balance and so these four ¿men¿ are out to return the balance of the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rarely does an author dare to write such a serious novel in such a jocular style. Apart from the impressively ambitious manner in which King writes, the book deals with content that few mainstream Americans understand or feel comfortable with. Juxtapositioned with multiple narratives of highly amusing and colourful characters is the story of the native American peoples of the Midwest, and the gradual descent of their culture into the murky waters of the past. King's intimate knowledge of his subject allows him to paint a particularly vivid portrait of Native American life modern America. The thoughtful yet troubled Lionel searches for a direction in a world unsure of its place for him, while his roots on the reservation call him back to his people. Dr Hovaugh, Alberta,Babo, and a host of other eloquently designed characters grapple with the same existential and material problems that will lead them all eventually back to the core and theme of King's witty and experimental masterpiece, Green Grass and Running Water.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First-rate comic novel about Lionel Red Dog, a Canadian Blackfoot stereo and TV salesman, his uncle Eli Stands Alone, and his sister Latisha (who runs the Dead Dog Cafe).' This summary was quirky enough to peak my interest so I got the book and now 2 days later I'm happy to report it was terrific ! The last book to make me laugh out loud was Catch 22...what a delight to have another to recommend to my friends ! If you enjoyed the off beat fun of the first 2 seasons of Northern Exposure on TV..this is the read for you. If the mistakes and implausible twists to a well known nursery tale that a 5-year old child can make in trying to tell you the story in her own words , can have you biting your lip in repressed giggles..this is the read for you!! If the sly play on words that a good episode of Frazier can be counted on to deliver is your cup of Chateau Thames Embankment...this is the read for you !!! Enjoy and spread the Word !!
Guest More than 1 year ago

Man has questioned the meaning of life since the beginning of time. This issue is complex as well as dynamic, and often times involves one questioning his or her identity. Thomas King displays his comprehension of this dilemma in ¿Green Grass, Running Water¿, by cleverly intertwining various worlds into one intricate tale. In this story, Canadian Indians struggle to define their identity while resisting white oppression. As each character undergoes hi or her own personal tribulations, an unnamed narrator insists on retelling the story of creation until it is told correctly with the assistance of coyote and four old Indians: Lone Ranger, Hawkeye, Robinson Crusoe and Ishmael.

As with any society, when two or more cultures attempt to co-exist side by side with one another they begin to transpose, often times leaving one culture more deeply influenced than the other. King utilizes this truth by using it as a tool to convey to the reader the true realities of life as an Indian. What makes the book a good literary piece is the fashion is which he applies it. Irony is the manner in which he implements this tool. The three old Indians who are ¿out to fix the world¿ (133) all possess names of characters found in western literature; characters whom were Anglo and either had an assistant who was non-Caucasian, or lived a glamorized indigenous lifestyle. The Lone Ranger had a Native American assistant Tonto, Hawkeye was an Anglo man whom adapted the Native American lifestyle, Robinson Crusoe had Friday and Ishmael befriended a South Sea Islander, Queequeg.

Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Green Grass Running Water¿ is a rather interesting book, that is written to enlighten and give humor to it¿s reader. The book keeps switching back and fourth between the stories main characters, and a kind of comic relief in which some other characters like ¿Coyote¿, and ¿that G O D¿, discuss about how everything came to be what it is today. But they can¿t seem to do it without disagreeing with each other. The book is mainly about a handful of people, who have their own desires and wants that seem to conflict a bit with their heritage and tradition. The characters are Native Americans and give an insight to how other people and cultures might think. For example there is one woman in this book named Alberta. She has two boyfriends, neither of whom know about the other and both are fairly serious. She can¿t decide which one she wants to keeps, and just decides that she¿s better off with both. The one thing that she really wants though is a child of her own. She doesn¿t care with whom or how she gets it she just wants one. She even tries to get herself pregnant with some guy off the street, but of course no one picks her up. Kind of a funny situation, and the way that she deals with it is even better. It¿s that kind of writing that makes a reader wonder if there are really people out there who think like that, and it just gives a whole new perspective on the world today.

A reader might think that Thomas King accomplishes his goal in writing this book. It seems that he wants to allow people from other cultures see what Native American is like, and how it is adapting to this whole new world. He¿s showing how old traditions and heritage¿s are being forgotten, and left in the dark, while the rest of society moves on. Though it¿s the same idea that all cultures seem to be following, it was interesting to view it from another. King does it in an amusing and fun-to-read way. It keeps the book flowing and easy to read. Defiantly a great book full of comedy that still allows the author get his point across.