(3 / 5) – It’s Okay
There are books in this world that you read, not because it is the greatest story ever told, or the best writing ever written, but because it has a message, a lesson to teach and a perspective to share that opens the readers’ understanding and spirit. “Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing” by Clayton Thomas-Muller is one such book.
Memoirs have never been my favorite, but I read a few every year and this year I began with this winner of 2022’s Canada Reads award. It is a short but powerful story of Clayton’s difficult childhood and the path he took through rough waters to become an international activist both in the indigenous and environmental community. His life’s story offers readers, particularly non-indigenous readers, a window into an experience that too few of us have encountered. From the transience of his childhood, to the years he spent incarcerated, to the “breaks” he received through various people and circumstances, we bear witness to a story that is extraordinary in the ordinary joys and griefs of life in the indigenous community.
For myself, the writing and form of this memoir was not my favorite, but that doesn’t diminish the importance and value of having read Clayton’s story in his own words. There were moments of pure beauty and transcendence; moments of poetry that I will come back to in time, dwelling in the wonder of Clayton’s words. It is a book that offers much in a small and powerful package.