Assembling My Atheneum: Thomas King
If I had unlimited funds, which authors would I want to see filling my bookshelves? That question originally arose from my musings about my home library, and I decided to start a new series to answer it. In Assembling My Atheneum, I’ll discuss the authors whose entire works I’d love to possess, as well as which books of theirs I’ve read, which I already own, and which I’d recommend to those wanting to give them a try. If you’re curious, you can see everyone I’ve featured so far.
My first encounter with Thomas King occurred back in 2009, when I realised I’d barely read any Canadian literature and thus joined John Mutford’s annual Canada Books Challenge. A couple of months in, I picked up his novel Green Grass, Running Water, and as my fangirl post makes clear, it was love at first page. His writing is such a marvelous mix of rich mythology with everyday people going about their lives, there was no real hope for me.
Since then, I’ve read Medicine River and DreadfulWater Shows Up (written under the pseudonym Hartley Goodweather, which makes me heart King even more) and loved them both. Brief digression: I seem to average one book a year when I’m reading more of my favourite authors, unless they write series. In the past, this was a deliberate policy because I didn’t want to ‘run out’ of the author’s back list too quickly. But now, I can’t help wondering why I’m not spending more of my reading life with authors I already adore. So I’m trying to change that habit! Anyway, that means I have two novels (Truth and Bright Water and The Red Power Murders), two short story collections (A Short History of Indians in Canada and One Good Story, That One) and a nonfiction book (The Truth About Stories) left to read.
If you’re interested in literary books with heart, you should definitely look into Thomas King. He’s also a First Nations author who writes First Nations characters, in case reading diversely is important to you (it is to me). If you love magical realism and/or a bit of experimenting in your novels, start with Green Grass, Running Water. If you prefer more standard fiction, Medicine River would be the best choice. And if you’re a mystery fan, look no farther than DreadfulWater Shows Up, the first in a planned series (he’s also published the second, The Red Power Murders).
As far as Thomas King’s physical representation on my shelves, well, thanks to the generous Melwyk I have a copy of Medicine River that matches the above cover. And that’s it. My library is barely any better; it only has that one and Green Grass, Running Water in its catalogue (although technically I can ILL the others for free). Which means I’d be quite justified in buying more of his books, wouldn’t I? ;)
Do you love Thomas King too? Know of any similar authors I should try?