2018, McClelland & Stewart
In publishing this book, McClelland & Stewart did the unusual in that they published an incomplete novel. Sadly, Richard Wagamese died in March of 2017 and this book was his last and not yet finished novel. The publisher has done a good thing by bringing out this book and letting Wagamese’s fans have one more chance to read his words–he is missed.
In Frank Starlight, I think that Wagamese has written the character he might have wanted to be himself. Starlight is a big strong man, centered in his world, a healer, and an artist. “Some say that I can do what I do on accounta I’m Indian. But I wasn’t raised Indian. I don’t know what I was raised as. The old man had no truck with churches or religions of any sort. He mostly had no proper teachin’. He only ever had the land and that’s what he gave to me. I figure I can do what I do becasue that land’s my home. That land’s my deepest wish, my wildest dream, the only prayer and the only temple that I’m ever gonna need.”
Through happenstance, Frank and his hired hand Roth befriend Emmy and her daughter Winnie. They are on the run from an unsettled life, one filled with anger, violence, and abuse. With Starlight and Roth, the mother and daughter learn to take their place on the land and in themselves. The violence that they knew in their previous life is stalking them, however. The book explores the tension between groundedness and rootlessness.
While the book remains incomplete, the publishers give us some notes Wagamese left behind and also provide a passage from a novella that formed the seed for this novel. Reading Wagamese is always an experience to treasure!