Book Description

From Publishers Weekly In this continuation of his spiritual autobiography, Going Native, Harmer shares his search for a deeper knowledge of the earth and its spirits. The memoir is set in the 1980s, when Harmer's nine-to-five town job has taken him away from the close relationship he once shared with his Okanogan Indian friends in the Pacific Northwest. A close brush with death causes him to search out his old friend, Okanogan Indian elder Clayton Tommy Jr. who offers to tutor him in the 'old power way.' Passages of heavy dialogue sprinkled with Salish words (which are then interpreted) bog the reader down in places, making the first quarter of the book move slowly, but the pacing soon picks up. Harmer excels in his portrayal of contemporary Native American life, traditions, hunting, spirituality and rituals such as the sweat lodge. He also beautifully describes the natural world along the U.S.-Canadian border, which serves as the backdrop for the story. As Harmer trains in his 'power,' his 'spirit partner' leads him to food, shows him things happening in other places and helps him overcome obstacles. He finds that training for power 'made life so real and purposeful, I couldn't imagine turning away from it.' Woven throughout the book is Harmer's grief over a lost love and a son who died in infancy-memories he must make peace with if he is to move forward. Fans of Harmer's first book and those interested in Native American spirituality should enjoy this further exploration of his experiences. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more From Booklist *Starred Review* Harmer's autobiographical book doesn't go down easy. It is too intense and challenging to be an easy read. Dozens of apparently similar books purport to tell how a curious young white person became privy to native wisdom; most of their authors, flushed with unexamined assumptions of privilege, insult that wisdom and its keepers. Harmer is different. He lived for many years in the Pacific Northwest, being taught traditional values and survival skills by Salish people, and he is humble and self-aware as he describes his experiences. Moreover, he is a superlatively talented writer, especially in describing the sensuous connection of humanity and nature. A chapter in which, directed by a dream, he hunts and kills a mature buck to provide meat for a hospitable Indian family is unforgettable for its precise rendering of physical and emotional details, and it is also bloody, unsentimental, and raw. But if nature is not 'pink in gum and paw' in Harmer's work, it isn't violently red, either, for he avoids the pathetic fallacy that nature exists to reflect humanity. Humans are part of nature, not its focal point, as Harmer demonstrates in his parable-like stories. And in moments when, spent with the exhaustion of hard physical work, Harmer recognizes the natural world's perfection, he makes that perfection tangible. Patricia MonaghanCopyright ? American Library Association. All rights reserved Read more See all Editorial Reviews