Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dances With Wolves by Michael Blake (Favorite Books Spotlight)

Ordered to hold an abandoned army post, John Dunbar found himself alone, beyond the edge of civilization. Thievery and survival soon forced him into the Indian camp, where he began a dangerous adventure that changed his life forever. Relive the adventure and beauty of the incredible movie, DANCES WITH WOLVES.
Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake carries over from yesterday's theme about descriptive writing. A while back my husband and I went to rent some movies and I was in the mood for an oldie but goodie. I suggested Dances with Wolves, as it had been over a decade or more since I last watched it. I remember fondly how much I loved the book and how impressed I was with the adaptation, but for a few changes in how it translated from page to screen. For the most part it comes as close as I've seen most book-to-movie attempts. My husband had never watched it at all.

Of course, I read the book when the movie was in the theaters in the 1990s. Yeah, I saw Kevin Costner on the book cover and on the commercials for the movie trailer quite often, but I read the book long before I ever saw the movie. The thing was, I didn't "see" Kevin Costner, per se, as I read. I saw Lieutenant Dunbar/Dances with Wolves as a real person. Sure, having an actor as a basis for what the character looks like doesn't hurt, but for me, the story became more and more real the further into the book I got.

I experienced the mid-to-late 1800s at the outpost, the stench of dead animal in the air that was fouling up the water supply when he first arrived, a matter that probably had a great deal to do with the reason why the post was abandoned. The aroma of the campfire as it sizzled and sparked, inhaling the dust and dirt of the west as it all overwhelmed my senses. The scary and yet surreal connection with "Two Socks" the wolf with whom he bonded and formed a supernatural kinship with and for which the Natives named him "Dances with Wolves."

My heart ached when he discovered Stands with a Fist during her mourning, covered in her own blood and my stomach churned when he ate from his buffalo kill, but my heart swelled as he became part of the tribe and fell in love.

I got sucked into the story, the setting and sometimes I forgot I was simply reading and not living back in those times. Though fictional, my heart went out to the "savages" for I could see how ignorance could blind people to the reality around them and carry prejudices that my mind doesn't want to accept, let alone understand. Even in fiction, there are strands of truth and the sad reality of our history in this country. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to wrap my mind around the hatred, the injustice, the stupidity. Putting myself in those shoes, having lived nearly 100 years after the time period in which the book is set, I just can't imagine myself feeling any differently.

Even in this day and age, I see and hear about prejudices and intolerance toward others based on personal things like race, culture, religion and sexuality and it makes me sad and sickened for humanity. No one should have to live in fear or be ashamed of who they ARE.

Dances with Wolves spoke of the freedom to lead a life of simple happiness and joy- to escape the rigors and demands of our society (long before all the technology came into being) and simply exist by loving and accepting others for who they are. It spoke of being a real community and family. Sometimes that means rocking the boat- going against societal expectations, the "norm" and living OUTSIDE the box.

That's why it's one of my favorite books (and the movie ain't too shabby either). Imagine my surprise while researching a bit about the book that I discovered there was a sequel called The Holy Road that continued the story around Dances with Wolves, Stands with a Fist and several other key characters. I downloaded both to my Kindle and plan to re-read the first one and then read the sequel very soon as I'm intrigued by the idea that there really was more to the story.

Happy Reading!

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