In 'Beginnings," Thomas D. Peacock's protagonist rediscovers his Ojibwe roots
For more than 40 years, the protagonist of Thomas D. Peacock's new novel didn't think about his Native origin story. After his mom died, and his grandparents died, he was adopted by a white couple and moved from the reservation near Ashland to Massachusetts.
From then on, he lived his life as a brown white man, he says in the first paragraph "Beginnings: the Homeward Journey of Donovan Manypenny," a unique take on the road-trip, coming-of-age story published by Holy Cow! Press. The book's launch party is at 5 p.m. Nov. 20 at Robert Powless Cultural Center.
Peacock is a member of the Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Anishinaabe, and he lives in both Red Cliff and Duluth.
Manypenny is in his early 50s when his daughter gets curious about her background. She proposes that he and his wife come with her to a presentation by a Minnesota-based Ojibwe couple — she's a basket maker and he's a storyteller. He's reluctant and tells her: "That's just not me, not who I am."
But he goes — and it is.
It's in the cadence of the woman's voice when she says "Aniin, boozhoo." And though he doesn't recognize the language from his childhood, he does remember the story of the beginning: when the Creator dreamed of earth and the galaxy and then, from a burst of energy, made rock, fire, water and air.
And like that, Manypenny is back at the kitchen table with his grandfather.
"How could I have ever imagined everything that happened in my life since then," he thinks.
From there, he is inspired to take a road trip back to his roots — but following the route of his ancestors. He goes alone, and he start in Maine and travels west, with stops in places such as Montreal, the Detroit River, Duluth and Madeline Island.
There are mile markers and people who look like him — whether it's a blind teacher who takes him in for the night or a softball fan in the stands at a recreational game. Along the way, in his free-flowing, plan-lite style of travel, he finds people who inspire, teach and guide him. And then he finds his home.
"Beginnings" is a gorgeously-written, comfortably paced story of identity that points out — not only is it the journey, it's also the destination.
Thomas D. Peacock readings
Nov. 20: 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Robert Powless Cultural Center, 202 W. Second St.
Nov. 23: 1-3 p.m. at Spirit Bay Trading Company, 395 S. Lake Ave.
Nov. 27: 7-8:30 p.m. at Zenith Bookstore, 318 N. Central Ave.
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Title: "Beginnings: the Homeward Journey of Donovan Manypenny"
Author: Thomas D. Peacock
Publisher: Holy Cow! Press