One Story, One Song

One Story, One Song

Book - 2011
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A new collection of warm, wise and inspiring stories from the author of the bestselling "One Native Live". In this new book, Richard Wagamese again invites readers to accompany him on his travels. This time, his focus is on stories: how they shape us, how they empower us, how they change our lives. Ancient and contemporary, cultural and spiritual, finny and sad, the tales are grouped according to the four Ojibway storytelling principles: balance, harmony, knowledge and intuition. Whether the topic is learning from his grade five teacher about Martin Luther King, a gleaning understanding from a wolf track, lighting a fire for the first time without matches or finding the universe in an eagle feather, these stories exhibit the warmth, wisdom and generosity that made "One Native Life" so popular.
Publisher: Vancouver, B.C. : Douglas & McIntyre, c2011.
ISBN: 9781553655060
Characteristics: xii, 201 pages ;,23 cm.
Alternative Title: 1 story, 1 song.


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Jul 23, 2017

Shortly after I arrived in Canada to live, Richard Wagamese, one of Canada's most well-known, most-awarded and most beloved First Nations authors passed away.

I put a bunch of his books on hold at the library as soon as I saw the affect his work had had on people. Their outpourings of love, memories of his work and how they felt at his loss spurred me on to pick up some of his writing.

And as it sometimes happens, more than one book of his came in at the same time. I picked up One Story, One Song first and then put it down after I realised it was a memoir. I don't normally tend to read authors' memoirs first unless I know them well, and even then I tend not to read their memoirs unless I like them. I put up a poll on Goodreads and asked if I should read his memoirs or fiction, and everyone said to keep reading this book, so I did.

This book is separated into four sections: East -- Humility, South -- Trust, West -- Introspection and North -- Wisdom.

And I loved every page. This book will linger with me for a long, long time. Wagamese is such a humble writer but his ability to articulate complex issues is part of the beauty of what makes his writing so good.

He's honest, he pulls no punches and he talks about such difficult topics sometimes, but his writing is so open and vulnerable that it makes it readable rather than turgid and depressing. He is an endless optimist and the more I read his book the more I felt like I made a friend.

He celebrates every tiny little moment and is so, so grateful. He's grateful in a way that's tangible. Reading his work made me want to be a better person. More patient, more giving, more kind.

I loved so many of the oral Ojibway stories that he weaved into his everyday life. Traditional stories are fantastic just as they are, but it is First Nations people who give them life, who give them greater meaning. In Wagamese's stories lay a thousand little lessons I hope to teach to my class one day.

The passages about Obama and Wagamese's hopefulness made me want to cry. After all this man's been through (alcoholism, failed marriages, living on the street, a painful adoption where his family wouldn't allow him to be himself), he still had hope as boundless as the sky.

His story is like so many other First Nations people, and yet it's not. It is singular. It is entirely his own, but collective in its compassion.

If aliens had come to earth before Wagamese's death and asked to speak to someone who exemplifies what a human is, I would've told them to speak to Richard Wagamese. Now that he's dead, I'm not sure who I'd send.

Maybe I'll just give them this book instead.

Dec 12, 2015

A deeply moving book, full of fact as well as story. This is history every Canadian should know in order to better understand the people who for hundreds of thousands of years loved and stewarded this land we live in today. We should know how and why their cultures have been destroyed. We have a spiritual debt to them, and much to learn from their beautiful culture.

smc01 Oct 19, 2013

Richard Wagamese is one of the best writers in Canada today. There is much to ponder and admire about his writing. For readers of Indian Horse, this book offers great background about the origins of that novel. The book's structure, organized around humility, trust, introspection and wisdom leave the reader with great admiration for native teachings.

Jul 03, 2013

Short little segments giving us insights into the life and thoughts of a beloved Canadian writer. Don't miss this author's latest novel titled Indian Horse which is a really good story.

Jan 23, 2012

Wise and thoughtful writing. Wagamese's writing cheers my heart - he sometimes writes about very difficult things, but the hope and patience for all humanity is there.

Jun 25, 2011

This is a book of beautiful, thoughtful language where each page seems to contain an idea or an image that one wants to linger over and think about further. It's an important book about us as people, not us as any particular race, color or creed, but as people on the planet attempting to live authentic lives. It speaks of our collective and personal spirits and the value of focusing on those spirits and tending to our inner health. Really an amazing book of essays and one which I am adding to my home collection. It's a book one wants to thank the author for having written.

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