Reading Tracks right now by Louise Erdrich. I’ve read Love Medicine, The Antelope Wife, The Master Butcher’s Singing Club, and The Painted Drum. If you were to ask if I’m drawn to Native American fiction, I’d say no. But something about her style just works for me.
When I write with my sixth graders I encourage them to “assume your reader is very intelligent.” Your reader will understand your references, don’t be obvious. That’s what Louise Erdrich does. She provides just enough for the strand of story to remain strong and tight. Just when you think you’ve lost a character or a past event, she bolsters your understanding and moves on. Nothing obvious. She assumes I’m an intelligent reader and is anything but obvious. I love it.
As with all my favorites, her characters are amazing. Fleur in Tracks is tremendous. She’s witchy, beautiful, wise and wild. But we rarely hear her speak or follow her movements for more than a moment. Pauline is bony, jealous, ignored and pivotal to the text.
I’m 2/3 through and hoping for a slow end. Louise has written plenty more and my favorite so far is The Painted Drum. So if Tracks ends too quickly, I can just pick that up again. The back cover says, “Erdrich’s lyricism gives her characters a moving and spelling bind intensity.” Well said, Boston Phoenix! I agree.