Tracks booke cover, louise Erdich

This magical wintry read was devastatingly beautiful, right from the very first line: “We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.”

But of course, the characters of Louise Erdrich’s Tracks are so alive that Margaret, Pauline, and Nanapush continue to whisper at me even after I have put this treasure back on the shelf. Tracks gives a distinct pleasure, each of it’s alternating narrators drawing you in in in to this world, where a woman makes love to a lake, and an old ‘grandfather’ teaches younger men the ways to woo even the wildest hearts, with a little girl running throughout, in shiny patent dancing shoes or soft and yielding moccasins.

There’s a darkness too, in the way that this story is bound in history. These characters, despite Nanapush’s  occasional cynicism, are quietly (and sometimes loudly) robbed by a faceless bureaucracy, and they change shape, in some small ways, and some big ones too, so that they may better fit into the pews of the Catholic church.

Pauline’s hallucinatory visions and complex masochism change the way she sees her own body, and eventually the scars of her maniacal devotion creep up to her skin, and she wears them like the mark of an adulteress, of a leper, of a moving target. Yet this is only half her story, and she herself can do nothing that could discredit its power.

Tracks is a beautiful and powerful work, and I can still feel the reverberations of this story, these characters, in my dreams.

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