Archives for posts with tag: Louise Erdrich

Bedside Table Books To Date

I’ve read 13 books so far this year, which is slightly more than 1/4 of the way to the 50 I’ve set as my resolution. I wanted to take a little minute here to go over some observations about what I’ve read so far:

  • five outta thirteen are authored by women, and maybe a half, if you count Lydia Davis’ translation of Madame Bovary.
  • Four of these are translated books: Three from French, one from Italian. None of the translated works were originally written by women.
  • Four of these books are autobiographical or memoir, as opposed to novels.  I think it’s fair to count How Should A Person Be? in this category.
  • Three, actually call it three and a half,  of these include main plots or subplots that feature characters dealing with their own identities as Jews  in American, Canadian, and European contexts. (The half refers to Tassie Keltjin’s fascination with her Jewish mother and goyish secular father in A Gate at the Stairs.)
  • Of the thirteen books, I only read two that I wouldn’t gladly read again (American Pastoral and My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist).
  • One of these books was about the reproductive system of a dog.

My top five so far, in order of first remembrance:

1. Tracks, by Louise Erdrich

2. How Should A Person Be?, by Sheila Heti

3.The Mystery Guest, by Grégoire Boullier

4. The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker

5. Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi

Although honestly I really want to put Madame Bovary and A Gate at the Stairs, and To the Lighthouse and My Dog Tulip on that list. I guess that’s ’cause I’m not really one for playing favorites. Plus, I’ve been lucky enough to have chosen, for the most part, pretty damn good books so far.

I’m always on the lookout for good books.

If you’ve got any rad recomendations, drop me a line in the comments, or even send me an e-mail at see.emily.read[at]gmail.com.

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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.