The Home­ward Jour­ney of Dono­van Manypenny

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Writers Of Color -

Thomas D. Pea­cock, Holy Cow! Press (DE­CEM­BER) Soft­cover $15.95 (188pp), 978-0-9986010-5-2 GEN­ERAL FIC­TION

In Thomas D. Pea­cock’s Be­gin­nings, Dono­van “Lit­tle Wolf” Manypenny is an Ojibwe de­scen­dant who was raised by a white fam­ily in Bos­ton. When his grown daugh­ter digs into his fam­ily’s past, it sets him on a ge­o­graph­i­cal and emo­tional odyssey. Mir­ror­ing his own tribe’s orig­i­nal mi­gra­tion from the East Coast to the Great Lakes a thou­sand years ago, his trav­els take him to the heart of his her­itage, as well as to his birth­place in Wis­con­sin. Along the way, Manypenny en­coun­ters all as­pects of the Na­tive Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing a visit to an In­dian casino that is a near-phan­tas­magor­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, and the shar­ing of sto­ries with other Na­tive Amer­i­cans he meets on the road that cast light on his peo­ple’s tri­als and tri­umphs.

Both a per­sonal tale of self-dis­cov­ery and an in­tro­duc­tion to Ojibwe cul­ture, Be­gin­nings is mainly told from Manypenny’s point of view, and is pep­pered with cru­cial scenes seen from other char­ac­ters’ per­spec­tives, as well as ex­pla­na­tions of Na­tive Amer­i­can folk­lore. Manypenny him­self, bereft of his im­me­di­ate fam­ily at a young age, has lost touch with his roots; it’s mov­ing to wit­ness his grad­ual re­con­nec­tion to his na­tive lan­guage and her­itage.

Pea­cock’s sym­pa­thy for him and the other peo­ple he meets in­vests the au­di­ence in their strug­gles, and al­though the nar­ra­tive progress of Manypenny’s jour­ney and the his­tor­i­cal foot­notes feel dry at times, there are mem­o­rable vi­gnettes aplenty, in­clud­ing an evening with a tough Seneca wait­ress that ends on a note of shared loss and com­pan­ion­ship, and a brief in­ci­dent in­volv­ing an abused child that con­cludes with hope.

Be­gin­nings works to­ward a sur­pris­ing re­union of long lost rel­a­tives; this and sim­i­lar mo­ments of heart­felt con­nec­tion are the book’s high­lights. Al­though the sto­ry­telling is some­times rough around the edges, Be­gin­nings is a com­pelling look at the lega­cies of Na­tive Amer­i­cans, and is a po­tent tale of re­claim­ing per­sonal and cul­tural his­tory.

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