Once this River Ran Clear by Peter Martin
In 1950, as “progress” becomes another name for “greed,” a sixteen year old boy learns from the people surrounding him. He and Urs, a bear-like man, live in a shabby cabin on the Nawaakamig River, existing happily on other people’s trash and on the carp which pollute the water. Urs’s land is coveted by a developer, setting off a chain of painful, tragic events, which overtake unlucky people, including the hobos who spend summers with Urs. The boy bounces from the humble cabin to the local elite family to an Ojibwa community, using what he learns from each situation to find his self and settle a score.
As David Solheim, author of Riverbend: Poems, writes, "If at the end of Twain’s novel, Huckleberry Finn does in fact 'light out for the Territory,' the sixteen year old narrator of Once This River Ran Clear might be his grandson. On the lowest rung of society, he tries to make sense of the larger world and attempts to solve a mysterious crime. Novelist Peter Martin leads his self-taught narrator through picaresque adventures as he discovers injustice and develops his personal ethos."
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