About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Humour of Thomas King

Author, Thomas King, has a talent for writing humour. His skill is evident in DreadfulWater which I reviewed in my last post.

His humour has an edge that I associate with Indian people. It is most evident in conversations, especially if they are with other Indians.

In my review of Shaman Pass by Stan Jones I described it as:

"Jones evokes the playful exchanges between indigenous people - not quite teasing, not really needling, on the edge of sarcastic, occasionally biting, always entertaining."

In representing Indian people for over 40 years I have seen and experienced their jabs. I rarely have had a deft reply.

King’s wit was often present on Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour, a CBC radio show that was actually 15 minutes in length. Gracie Heavy Hands and Jasper Friendly Bear joined King who played himself. They were clever in their satiric views of Indian country and its intersections with the white world.

Wikipedia reminded me of a favoured segment:

Gracie’s Authentic Traditional Aboriginal Recipes, including
puppy stew, fried bologna and Kraft Dinners.

Here is a link to a podcast of the show which included the Kraft Dinners recipe - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHCoiFcW44Y

There was some consternation within the CBC over puppy stew but the show aired.

In DreadfulWater Thumps arrives at the home of Moses, an Indian elder, well into the night looking for advice:

Moses looked out into the night. “Is it a big problem or a little one?” In
the distance Thumps could hear a coyote working its way across the coulees.

“It’s not exactly a problem.”

Moses nodded. “Then you better bring it inside,” he said. “You never
know when an owl might be listening.”

Later Moses discusses Hollywood:

“That’s what white people do best.” Moses pressed the on button and the
television sprang to life. “They make good movies.” On the television, a
bunch of good-looking men and women in spacesuits were fighting with
a bunch of giant bugs. “Ho,” he said, “I’ve seen this one before. The bugs
almost win.” Moses turned down the sound. “Just like Indians.”

Moses has a unique view of computers:

“My mother could talk to animals.” Moses pushed a button, and one of
the monitors flashed to live. “Stanley can talk to these machines.”

“You know how to work this stuff?”

“Sure, Stanley showed me how.” Moses pressed another button and a
plastic tray slid out of one of the machines.”It’s not hard once you
understand how the Nephews think.”

“The Nephews?”

Moses waved his hand over the computers. “They’re like little kids. They
like to repeat everything you tell them.”

I have always loved the signoff for The Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour;

“Stay calm! Be brave! Wait for the signs!”


  1. Oh, I do like this wit, Bill! It reminds me of the wit of Henry Standing Bear in Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series. I'm sure that it added much to the book, and I can see how you enjoyed it as much as you did.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I agree Henry has that sense of Indian humour.