Motorcycles & Sweetgrass

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Motorcycles & Sweetgrass

by Drew Hayden Taylor

Knopf Canada | December 7, 2010 | Trade Paperback

Motorcycles & Sweetgrass is rated 4.625 out of 5 by 8.
A story of magic, family, a mysterious stranger . . . and a band of marauding raccoons.
 
Otter Lake is a sleepy Anishnawbe community where little happens. Until the day a handsome stranger pulls up astride a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle – and turns Otter Lake completely upside down. Maggie, the Reserve’s chief, is swept off her feet, but Virgil, her teenage son, is less than enchanted. Suspicious of the stranger’s intentions, he teams up with his uncle Wayne – a master of aboriginal martial arts – to drive the stranger from the Reserve. And it turns out that the raccoons are willing to lend a hand.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 7.99 × 5.4 × 0.98 in

Published: December 7, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307398064

ISBN - 13: 9780307398062

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a 10/5 leaves & should be required reading for all Canadians! An absolutely incredible read by an Ontario [Curve Lake] author.! Thanks to Jim (Bay & Bloor store) for suggesting this title to me. Motorcycles is definitely going to be #1 on my Top Ten Reads of 2012! This title should be required reading – it is both a coming of age story & a mystery with the brilliance of the Hope Diamond! A must-read for every Canadian….
Date published: 2012-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Irresistible CanLit! This highly recommended book is a delightful mixture of humour, trenchant satire, and popularized First Nations mythology. I wasn't familiar with Drew H. Taylor until I read "Motorcycles and Sweetgrass". I'm glad I have more of his books to read!
Date published: 2012-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great read I stayed up til midnight to finish this off. Very funny novel! pure joy.
Date published: 2011-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful humourous Read! Do you love Canadian Literature as I do, but sometimes harbour secret critical thoughts? Do you ever inwardly ask yourself questions like: Does CanLit have to be so depressing? Is everyone in Canada impoverished and filled with self pity? Could Can Lit ever allow its reader’s to indulge in a little escapism? Character development is wonderful – but could we cut out about 100 pages of navel gazing? Is any sub group in Canada not filled with laments? It was with this trepidation that I picked up [Motorcycles &Sweet Grass] by Drew Taylor Hayden. Yes, I ‘d read excellent reviews that promised me that this book would read “like a romp.” But, I reasoned, this is a book about life on a First Nations Reserve and that is not generally indicative of a book that will be humour filled. I was most wonderfully surprised in so many ways. [Motorcycles and Sweetgrass] is indeed filled with humour and great lines, but it also gently touches on many serious issues. Residential schools, abuse by Catholic Priests, alcoholism, drug abuse, the clashing intergenerational First Nation Culture and many other difficult topics are skilfully brought to our attention. Native mythology is prominent in the book, but presented in such a way that it very understandable to virtually any reader. I also got a real feel for the prejudice that First Nations people are subjected to, as well a look into what life might be like for both adults and children living on a reserve in today’s Canada. I was also able to get a very good idea as to what forces – both from within and outside a Reserve - are dealt with by an aboriginal Chief. This is a most fun and enjoyable read ,but it would be a mistake to say it is simply that. There is so much more to this book, and it well earned its place as a finalist in the 2010 Governor Generalist’s Award. The author, Drew Hayden Taylor , born and raised on Curve Lake First Nation Reserve in Ontario well deserves his award from Knopf Canada as a New Face in Fiction in Canada. There are many humourous lines but that one that grabbed me concerned the Chief of the reserve : “She hated appearing on television, felt that she looked too haggard and worn, like a character from a Margaret Lawrence novel.” This is a wonderful read and deserves to be much more popular than it is. I look very forward to Drew Hayden Taylor's next book
Date published: 2011-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Read! Don't miss it! Do you love Canadian Literature as I do, but sometimes harbour secret critical thoughts? Do you ever inwardly ask yourself questions like: Does CanLit have to be so depressing? Is everyone in Canada impoverished and filled with self pity? Could Can Lit ever allow its reader’s to indulge in a little escapism? Character development is wonderful – but could we cut out about 100 pages of navel gazing? Is any sub group in Canada not filled with laments? It was with this trepidation that I picked up [Motorcycles &Sweet Grass] by Drew Taylor Hayden. Yes, I ‘d read excellent reviews that promised me that this book would read “like a romp.” But, I reasoned, this is a book about life on a First Nations Reserve and that is not generally indicative of a book that will be humour filled. I was most wonderfully surprised in so many ways. [Motorcycles and Sweetgrass] is indeed filled with humour and great lines, but it also gently touches on many serious issues. Residential schools, abuse by Catholic Priests, alcoholism, drug abuse, the clashing intergenerational First Nation Culture and many other difficult topics are skilfully brought to our attention. Native mythology is prominent in the book, but presented in such a way that it very understandable to virtually any reader. I also got a real feel for the prejudice that First Nations people are subjected to, as well a look into what life might be like for both adults and children living on a reserve in today’s Canada. I was also able to get a very good idea as to what forces – both from within and outside a Reserve - are dealt with by an aboriginal Chief. This is a most fun and enjoyable read ,but it would be a mistake to say it is simply that. There is so much more to this book, and it well earned its place as a finalist in the 2010 Governor Generalist’s Award. The author, Drew Hayden Taylor , born and raised on Curve Lake First Nation Reserve in Ontario well deserves his award from Knopf Canada as a New Face in Fiction in Canada. There are many humourous lines but that one that grabbed me concerned the Chief of the reserve : “She hated appearing on television, felt that she looked too haggard and worn, like a character from a Margaret Lawrence novel.” This is a wonderful read and deserves to be much more popular than it is. I look very forward to Drew Hayden Taylor's next book
Date published: 2011-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Will keep you turning pages. If you are looking for a light, but still deep novel which will challenge your own idea of what's ludicrous in our world, this is one that you can't afford to miss. This book will make you laugh, will keep you on your toes, and will immerse you in it's amazing but non-tiring descriptions which make you feel like you can see what's happening without having to read on pages of endless detail. Should be on every Canadians bookshelf.
Date published: 2010-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Teenager vs Trickster His mother is the band chief, his grandmother, a respected elder, is dying, and he's related to half the members of Otter Lake, Virgil doesn't imagine that life could be any more difficult for an Anishnawbe teenager. That is, until a shiny red 1953 Indian Chief Motorcycle was driven into town by a mysterious blond haired, blue-eyed white man. To further complicate matters, this stranger walks right into his grandmother's house and her bedroom as though he was family. Being a curious teenager, Virgil sneaks a look in his grandmother's window and spies the stranger kissing his grandmother in a surprisingly passionate manner. Something is afoot in Otter Creek and Virgil is convinced that the motorcycle riding stranger is behind it. with the help of his Uncle Wayne, a self styled Indian Martial Arts expert, he intends to get to the bottom of it and save his mother and family. I loved every minute of this book. I read it while camping, shortly after a brief visit to Curve Lake First Nations, Drew Hayden Taylor's hometown. At first I wanted to learn more about Virigil's grandmother Lillian, but as the story continued, I realized that those very details were mixed in with the stranger's story. Turns out the stranger is.... Oh shoot, I can't tell you that. Let's just say that mythology figures large in this story, though it appears in such a way I didn't question it, I just accepted it. Two scenes remain in my mind: the members of the Otter Lake Debating Society sitting on their porch discussing the events that have happened, and that of Nanabush and his conversation with Jesus. This book is funny and serious in turns. Every page kept me wanting more. Even when I was finished I wanted more. I for one am hoping that there are more stories coming out of Otter Lake.
Date published: 2010-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Delightful tale of the Trickster Nanabush (the Ojibwe Trickster) has been dormant for awhile. He is startled back into action by the impending death of a woman he loved from his past. Lillian was made to leave the reserve when she was younger to attend residential school. She turned her back on Nanabush when she left. Once at school she muses "I thought the world was full of magic. I don't think it is. Maybe once it was. Not any more." She did return to the reserve and on her deathbed, has called Nanabush to Otter Lake - an Anishnawbe community in Ontario. She is worried about her family - her daughter Maggie, who is now the chief of the reserve, her youngest grandson Virgil, who really can't be bothered with school and her eccentric son Wayne, who lives alone on an island developing an aboriginal martial art form. Will he come? Is there still magic in the world? Otter Lake is quite taken aback when Nanabush, now calling himself John, arrives in town riding a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle. And this time, he's decided to present himself as a handsome young white man. Although John is able to charm Maggie, Virgil and Wayne are suspicious of John and his intentions. And the raccoons don't seem very happy to see him either. They have a long standing feud running with Nanabush. " It was him. and he was back. This was good. In this part of the country, revenge was furry and wore a bandit's mask." Motorcycles & Sweetgrass open with the line "Hey, wanna hear a good story? Supposedly it's true one. It's a long story but it goes something like this..." Taylor had me laughing out loud, with the raccoon's revenge and John's antics. But his writing is thoughtful as well, touching on the the importance of family, community and the land. And hopeful - the belief that yes, there is magic left in the world. The novel ends with "And that's how it happened to cousin of mine. I told you it was a long story. They're the best 'cause you can wrap one around you like a nice warm blanket." Absolutely! I really enjoyed this book, from first page to last. Drew Hayden Taylor is an accomplished writer, journalist, film maker and screenwriter. (Canadian readers - remember North of 60 and The Beachcombers?) Motorcycles and Sweetgrass is his first adult fiction foray and is one of Random House Canada's 2010 New Faces of Fiction.
Date published: 2010-03-05

– More About This Product –

Motorcycles & Sweetgrass

by Drew Hayden Taylor

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 7.99 × 5.4 × 0.98 in

Published: December 7, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307398064

ISBN - 13: 9780307398062

Read from the Book

ONE   The first day she arrived she knew she wouldn’t like it. The place was cold and drafty. The clothes they made her wear were hot and itchy. They didn’t fit well at all, and all the girls had to wear the exact same thing. The boys, situated at the opposite end of the building, were not allowed to talk to the girls. Brothers weren’t allowed to interact with sisters, cousins and so on. Only the People in Black, otherwise known as the Nuns and the Priests, were allowed to talk to each other. To the young girl, these people had nothing interesting to say. And what they did say was usually not very nice. And what they did was sometimes even worse.   Those with darker skin who were not yet adults and free of this mandatory education called it the Angry Place. Still, she put up with it. It had taken a long time to get here and she instinctively knew it would take her a much longer time to get home. Wherever that was—she had no idea if it was north, south, east or west. It was just far away. As soon as she arrived, she was told stories of one of the girls trying to run away. She wasn’t the type to break the rules like that. Instead, she decided to deal with the present by con cen trating on the past and the future: remembering the family she had just left, and imagining the family that she would someday have.   Sister Agnes had christened the girl Lillian. As soon as she had arrived, they told her that her Anishnawbe name was not to be
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From the Publisher

A story of magic, family, a mysterious stranger . . . and a band of marauding raccoons.
 
Otter Lake is a sleepy Anishnawbe community where little happens. Until the day a handsome stranger pulls up astride a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle – and turns Otter Lake completely upside down. Maggie, the Reserve’s chief, is swept off her feet, but Virgil, her teenage son, is less than enchanted. Suspicious of the stranger’s intentions, he teams up with his uncle Wayne – a master of aboriginal martial arts – to drive the stranger from the Reserve. And it turns out that the raccoons are willing to lend a hand.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

An Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nations, Drew Hayden Taylor has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to lecturing at the British Museum on the films of Sherman Alexie. Over the last two decades, he has been an award-winning playwright (with over seventy productions of his work), a journalist/columnist (with a column in several newspapers across the country), short-story writer, novelist and scriptwriter (The Beachcombers, North of Sixty, etc.), and has worked on seventeen documentaries exploring the Native experience. In 2007, Annick Press published his first children''s novel, The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel, a teen story about an Ojibway vampire. Last year, his non-fiction book exploring the world of Native sexuality, called Me Sexy, was published by Douglas & McIntyre. It is a follow-up to his highly successful book on Native humour, Me Funny.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

NATIONAL BESTSELLER FINALIST 2013–2014 – First Nations Communities Read   “A near-perfect debut, a masterful mythic-comedy balancing contemporary issues and realities with magic and history. . . . Motorcycles & Sweetgrass is a trickster story, but it’s also a fundamentally human account of individuals and of a people struggling to find a place for themselves in the world. . . . A broad, bawdy, raucous, deeply felt and utterly involving narrative, a genuine pleasure to read. . . . Motorcycles & Sweetgrass positively crackles with life, love and magic. What more can you ask of a book?” — Robert J. Wiersema, Edmonton Journal   “A winning comedy.” — The Globe and Mail   “ Motorcycles & Sweetgrass may be concerned with aboriginal community politics, identity, mythology and intergenerational legacies, but it reads like a romp. . . . Yet the book’s real strength is its underlying account of a community struggling to weave an increasingly abstract traditional past with some kind of meaningful future.” — Toronto Star   “Drew Hayden Taylor’s got no qualms about poking fun at his Native roots, and that’s what makes Motorcycles & Sweetgrass such a pleasure. It’s playful yet soulful, with a narrative that keeps those pages turning. . . . A fun, rollicking book, and Taylor’s voice is fresh and unique.” — NOW (Toronto)   “Tayl
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