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Book reviews for "Erdrich,_Louise" sorted by average review score:

The Blue Jay's Dance : A Birth Year
Published in Paperback by Perennial (April, 1996)
Author: Louise Erdrich
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great, honest book
Fine book, can be read again and again. Would be a great book to give an expecting mother or new mother.

insightful, spiritual (non-denominational) and helpful
It seems that a week doesn't go by when I see a woman on the subway or in a coffee shop reading a book from the What to Expect When You're Expecting series. Those detailed tombs of writing seem to be sent to people planning or in the process of rearing children as if by storks. (I've even heard of some workplaces keeping the book What to Expect... in the human resources supply closet, to be given as a gift when a woman announces she's pregnant.) However, upon reading some chapters from those books and informal discussions with mothers, a theme that reoccurs is that some women will explicitly instruct others not to read those books. Why? Not because they don't contain a plethora of knowledge but precisely because they do. That is, these can wind up really scaring a parent-to-be because they contain all the zillions of possible physical and emotional things that can go wrong during pregnancy and the first years. I think everyone can agree that raising the anxiety level, especially of a woman during pregnancy, is quite a less than desirable outcome.

What if there was a book that spoke honestly about the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth and, more importantly, treated these experiences as natural events rather than listing all the possible things to be feared? Better yet, what if there was a book that did all those things and spoke of the spiritual aspects of pregnancy and children, in a gentle and non-denominational way? Well, a book with all those features and more is available in this book.

Erdrich is of Native American ancestry and a writer by profession. Her background is rich with symbolism and spiritualism and is wonderful at weaving her story into the passage of seasons. At times I felt I was really looking through her eyes in the room where she wrote, looking out at a large picture window in her remote rural home. She saw the lives of various wildlife, from all types of birds to deer to wild dogs, intertwine with the passage of time from the beginnings of her pregnancy through the first year of her daughter's life. This book seems to be very realistic primarily because it does not compartmentalize pregnancy or infancy; Erdrich does not shy away from concurrent events in her life including changes in relationship with her husband, observations of nature, memories from her own childhood and recipes she craves during pregnancy or for their nurturing powers.

In more popular baby manual-type books, the subjects of actual labor, sleep deprivation, nurturing "instincts," and patience are sometimes glossed-over or described in such a way to possibly make a parent feel guilty for not automatically possessing certain qualities. This is yet another way that Erdrich's book masterfully succeeds as she lovingly and with understanding tackles these and other important subjects. She describes with humor and passion of a "no-sleep week" by stating how she wanted to call 911 Emergency because her baby wouldn't sleep. She describes the situation: "It happens to be a long crying bout, nothing wrong physically, just growth, maybe teeth. Why knows? Sometimes babies just cry and cry... in my office, with her in the crib next to the desk, I break through a level of sleep-deprived frustration so intense I think I'll burst, into a dimension of surprising calm," (71).

Erdrich speaks of the "tender and grueling task of rearing a newborn," (6) with such a fullness and richness of spirit that I cannot help but be moved by her descriptions. I highly recommend this book not only to anyone personally considering parenting but also to educators and anyone interested in the mutual development of a parent and an infant. I think it could also serve as an excellent supplement for all students in any Infancy and Child Development course. The best summary for her book is by Erdrich herself. In the introduction she states: "These pages are a personal search and an extended wondering at life's complexity. This is a book of conflict, a book of babyhood, a book about luck, cats, a writing life, wild places in the world, and my husband's cooking. It is a book about he vitality between mothers and infants, that passionate bond into which we pour the direct expression of our being," (5).

This is an amazing book!
I loved this book when I first read it before my daughter was born. Re-reading it now, as a new mother, I find it even more remarkable. Louise Erdrich has perfectly captured both the frustration and surpassing joy of life with a new baby. The book is also a beautiful nature narrative, with observations on the changing of the seasons interwoven with the story of a child's first year. Highly recommended!

Grandmother's Pigeon
Published in Paperback by Hyperion Press (May, 1999)
Authors: Louise Erdrich, Jim Lamarche, Louise Erdich, and Jim La Marche
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a wonderful little book
Louise Erdrich is the author of the award winning novels Love Medicine and The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse , amongst others. She is an incredibly gifted novelist. Grandmother's Pigeon is her first book for children.

I haven't read a book written specifically for children in well over a decade (Harry Potter and The Narnia series would be more for young adults and are suitable for adults on different levels), but Grandmother's Pigeon is a true children's book. It is only about 30 pages, half of which are illustrations. Like any good children's book, this one is mixed with the simple and the fantastic (perhaps all the more understandable considering Erdrich's American Indian heritage). The story is simple, a grandmother goes away on a trip and bird eggs are discovered in her room. When the eggs hatch, the birds turn out to be Passenger Pigeons (a long extinct species), three males. There is some commotion about the pigeons and finally they are released into the wild by the family. The fantastic comes in from the very start when Grandmother announces she is going to travel to Greenland on the back of a turtle and it is hinted the a stuffed animal toy pigeon may have been the cause of the mysterious eggs. It is a very sweet, charming story and I would imagine any child would enjoy reading this book.

A Bookful of Wonder
The illustrations in this book are wonderful and are a perfect compliment to this strange,comforting story of a loving family and the legacy of their magical grandmother. There are some subtle nuances that parents will pick up if they pay attention. This is a tale about ecology and love for free and wild creatures, with a bit of shamanism thrown in for good measure. There is humour here and wisdom. I love this book for the satisfying feeling of gentle wonder that I feel as I turn the last page and close the book. I recommend it to all with childish hearts.

wonderful illustrations, and unusual story.
helps to show children that people in their family can be different, but you still love them.

Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine: A Casebook (Casebooks in Contemporary Fiction)
Published in Hardcover by Oxford University Press (September, 1999)
Author: Hertha Dawn Wong
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A scholarly compendium of literary criticism
Love Medicine was Louise Erdrich's debut novel and won a National Book Critics Circle Award when it was published in 1984. A short story cycle narrated by a variety of different characters, Love Medicine chronicles the intertwined histories of Chippewa and mixed-blood families in North Dakota spanning more than fifty years and laying bare the ordeals and joys of twentieth-century Native American life. Erdrich successfully and poignantly evoked the continued relevance of homeland, humor, and storytelling with the issues of indigenous survival in the modern era. Highly recommended reading for students of contemporary Native American experience in general, and the writings of Louise Erdrich in particular, Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine: A Casebook is a scholarly compendium of literary criticism and analytical essays organized around the subjects of "Contexts: History, Culture, and Storytelling"; "Mixed Identities and Multiple Narratives"; Individual and Cultural Survival: Humor and Homecoming"; and Reading Self/Reading Others".

Northern Lights: A Selection of New Writing from the American West
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (November, 1994)
Authors: Deborah Clow, Donald Snow, and Louise Erdrich
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Voices from the High Plains and Mountain States
"Northern Lights" takes its title from the magazine of the same name, published in Missoula, Montana, which according to the editors of this fine collection of essays "publishes Westerners who write about the West." While you may expect it to be a book comprised mostly of nature writing, it proves that Westerners have other things on their minds besides an environment of natural beauty that was so recently still "wild." True, the essays are often marked by a sense of loss at the encroachment of civilization and the land use policies that have resulted in overgrazing, deforestation, pollution, and depletion of natural resources, not to mention the brutal displacement of native populations.

But it's not a jeremiad either. For all that has been lost, there is an insistence among these writers on a kind of redeeming integrity that can be found in treasuring what is left. And there's also a good deal of humor. Edward Abbey's diatribe against cowboys and ranchers' access to public lands is uproarious. So is Bill Vaughan's "Notes from the Squalor Zone," about a kind of Western-style hillbilly existence on the fringes of some unnamed city, referred to only as the Valley of the Liberals. There are essays on playing poker, drive-in theaters, western cooking (SOB stew and "prairie oysters"), an old-time hardware store, and the Russian origin of tumbleweeds. More sobering subjects include editor Donald Snow's "Ecocide" and Frederick Turner's "Wounded Knee III."

Lest anyone assume that western writers are typically male, roughly one-third of the forty contributors are women, including Gretel Ehrlich and Judy Blunt, writing on subjects ranging from girls riding horseback to breast cancer, coyotes, Native Americans, winter camping with at-risk youth, ranchers' wives, and why working men don't wear wedding rings. And Louise Erdrich provides an introduction.

A brief summary like this can only brush over the surface of this wonderfully rich book. You come away with a sense that the subject is much too vast to encompass in a single volume, and in the face of all this diversity, stereotypes and cliches about the West soon evaporate. I happily recommend this book to anyone interested in the high plains and mountain states, and in hearing the voices of men and women from a wide range of backgrounds, whose life journeys find them somewhere in that landscape. For books along similar lines, I recommend Frank Clifford's "Backbone of the World" and Ian Frazier's "Great Plains."

The Birchbark House
Published in Audio Cassette by Audio Bookshelf (January, 2002)
Authors: Louise Erdrich and Nicolle Littrell
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Everybody should read this wonderful book.
The Birchbark House was a good book and I think Louise Erdrich is a wonderful author and illustrator. The part I liked the most was when the main character's, Omakayas, grandmother told her a story in the winter. It was about her grandmother when she was a little girl. A sad event in the book was when the visitor came and brought smallpox to the village. It was also sad when Omakayas's little brother died. All in all, everybody should read this book.

Everybody should read this wonderful book!
The Birchbark House was a good book and I think Louise Erdrich
is a wonderful author and illustrator. The part I liked the most was when the main character Omakayas's grandmother Nokomis told her a story in the winter. It was about Nokomis when she was a little girl. When the visitor came and brought smallpox and Omakayas's little brother died it was very sad. All in all, everyone should read this book.

A chilren's book enjoyed by an adult
Louise Erdrich is my favorite author so when her children's book came out, I was determined to read it! It held my interest with the loverly interpretations of Ojibway language, the glossary of terms at the end to help me to say the words as I read. I was amazed at the depth of my sorrow reading about the smallpox, the death of her brother, the love for her crow and the amazing heart of Old Tarrow. This book will win many awards. I have already passed on my copy to a co-worker who is just finishing the Little House series so this book gives the perspective of a Native American girl in my home state of Minnesota.

Broken Cord
Published in Library Binding by Bt Bound (October, 1999)
Authors: Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich
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One of the worst books I have ever read
In my 9th grade English class, we were allowed to choose from six books the book we wanted to read. I chose this book for the sole reason of reading about the actual life of Michael Dorris, and not at all about the Native American inclination to alcoholism or the implications of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). As I started reading it, I found it painfully difficult to read the endless chapters of technical terms and Dorris' own interpretation of Native Americans, which turned out to be most of the book. I did find the parts where he described actual events that happened to Adam and him somewhat interesting, but that was the farthest extent to which I enjoyed this book. I was forced to continue reading this book since it was for my English class, but otherwise I would have stopped long before the second half. However, since I had no other option, I chose to be optimistic, thinking that the book couldn't possibly get any worse. It got worse. Especially the part where he interviews the FAS researchers, in which he asked them the exact same questions, and recieved the exact same answers. The final thing that bothered me about this book was Dorris' use of language. Intricate vocabulary and complex sentence structure do, to some extent, make the prose more enjoyable, but his word choice made the book difficult to understand and even more difficult to enjoy. My last statement will be this: All the other reviewers of this book may have enjoyed it because of their interest in FAS, and that was why they enjoyed it so much. So if you're looking for a book about a man and his adopted child, and their relationship, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. But if you are looking for information on FAS, by all means, disregard this review.

The story of a father and son
It would be a shame if the circumstances surrounding the author's death cast a shadow over this fine book, because it is beautifully written, deeply felt, and a devastating account of the impact of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) among Native Americans.

Michael Dorris, a young unmarried college teacher and writer, adopts a Native American boy "Adam" whose developmental problems, he believes, are the result of poor nutrition, poor health care, and lack of proper parenting. In time, however, he discovers that Adam was born with FAS, a condition Dorris knows very little about. Believing that proper care can reverse the effects of FAS, he takes on the daunting and nearly futile task of helping Adam achieve a "normal" boyhood. The damage done, it turns out, is irreversible; Adam is almost maddeningly unable to learn simple tasks and responsibilities. FAS-related health problems, including seizures, often turn merely difficult days and nights into nightmares for the single father.

The book Dorris writes is meant as an eye-opener for readers who are unaware of the potential harm in consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Given naturally to research and study, he shares with the reader much of what he learns about FAS and the Native American culture that has had such a fatal connection with alcohol. To that extent, this is almost a textbook on the subject.

But this is also the story of a father and son, and most poignant, for this reader, is the relationship between them that is a thread throughout the book. Dorris never surrenders to the barriers that exist between him and his son. Having taken responsibility for Adam, he gives his all to making even the smallest difference in the boy's life. It's a heroic effort and often heartbreaking.

The Facts, Plus Much More
"The Broken Cord" is the heart-wrenching story of a young man, single and in graduate school, who adopts a developmentally disabled boy who, like himself, has Native American ancestry. The man learns gradually that his son suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, just as the medical community is starting to figure out what Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is. As a child psychologist, I have found the information in this book invaluable. You can read research papers, journal articles, and textbooks to learn all of the facts of what Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is (a complex set of deficits caused by in utero exposure to alcohol), but "The Broken Cord" goes well beyond that and lets you know what it's like to live with, raise, and love a child with this disorder. This book is full of love, pain, and limited triumphs. It is also very well-written. Have a box of tissues handy.

Master Butchers Singing Club
Published in Digital by PerfectBound ()
Author: Louise Erdrich
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Reality isn't pretty
I first fell in love with Louise Erdrich's work when I was given a copy of LOVE MEDICINE to read before it had even been published.

I was fascinated by the subject matter, the delicately layered characters, and the surprisingly effective use of shifting perspective. It was a world beyond words, and one so incredibly memorable and so deeply (and unexpectedly) satisfying that I decided Erdrich's works were the only contemporary novels worth collecting.

I'm sorry to say however, that Erdrich's passion for tragic characters leading desperate lives in stark landscapes and impoverished communities has soured me to her more recent books, and THE MASTER BUTCHER'S SINGING CLUB is no exception.

Delphine Watzka, the "heroine" of this book, leads us on an emotionally relentless journey through a barren and depressed town in remote Argus, Minnesota, a community populated by Erdrich's usual ecletic collection of tormented characters who suffer the aftermath of World War One, the Depression and the onslaught of World War Two. Characters die of cancer, alcoholism, and freak accidents. Families are murdered, babies are left to die in outhouses, wild dogs slaughter family pets, nearly everyone is poor and those who aren't are borderline insane.

Fidelis Waldvogel, a character based loosely on Erdrich's own grandfather, makes his living killing livestock, and while Erdrich does a good job of revealing the man underneath the bloodstained aprons, sausage casings, rotting piles of bones, buckets of offal, and strings of chicken feet, his occupation coupled with his endlessly sobering personal dramas makes this book a difficult read.

True, there are moments of triumph and inspiration interspersed throughout the story, but overall Erdrich's passion for tragedy undermines the book's effectiveness, particularly since it has become obvious that is a recurring theme in all her work. Erdrich knows as well as anyone that life isn't easy, but I have to believe that it can't possibly be this bleak either.

Erdrich is on the top of her game
This novel is a departure for Louise Erdrich in that The Master Butchers Singing Club focuses on the German side of her heritage and only deals with Native American characters on the periphery. Erdrich has been my favorite author ever since I read Love Medicine while in college. Her newest novel does not disappoint at all.

The novel follows two people, Fidelis and Delphine. We first meet Fidelis shortly after World War I. He is a German and is going home to meet the fiancé of his best friend in the war. He marries Eva and they move to America and end up living in Argus, North Dakota. He works first in Pete Kozka's butcher shop (we meet Pete in her earlier novel The Beet Queen ), and later opens his own shop. Delphine is a native of Argus and is living with an Indian named Cyprian Lazarre (a family well know in Erdrich's work for dishonesty), who happens to be a homosexual. The paths of Fidelis and Delphine cross and their lives become intertwined in several different ways.

Erdrich's gifts as a storyteller only seem to be getting stronger as she continues to write novels. This is an excellent novel. She is a master storyteller. While few novels will match up to The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse , this is a first rate novel and is essential reading for anyone who enjoys reading Erdrich or excellent novels.

A Brilliant Novel with Unforgettable Characters
It's a complete cliche to say that a book sticks with you long after you've turned the last page, but that is precisely the impact that the The Master Butchers Singing Club has had upon me. Delphine and Fidelis (the singing butcher of the title) are two of the most idiosyncratic and memorable characters I've ever encountered in fiction. Louise Erdrich depicts the entire spectrum of emotion in two essentially stoic people and simply breaks your heart.

In the hard scrabble life desribed in this novel, a man shoots a pack of wild dogs to show his love for his sons and grief for his dead wife. The town drunk shows a lethal pettiness and then pulls himself together to sing songs of comfort to a dying woman. It is the moral complexity of these people that sticks with you for days. Some reviewers have complained that characters come into the novel and then disappear, but that is part of the novel's point. The book is the story of Delphine's life. Just as in any life, people come into her world and then move on. Her life feels more real, and less like fiction, because some loose ends are left to dangle. Not every character has an ultimate resolution.

I can't recommend this book highly enough.

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
Published in Digital by PerfectBound ()
Author: Louise Erdrich
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A little more action
...and a little less intricacy would make this a much more worthwhile read. The unsolved murder is easily solved, the coincidental events too convenient and the secret identities force one to suspend disbelief. However Erdrich weaves some wonderful characters into the story line. I wanted to learn so much more about them. I yearned for their thoughts and feelings, especially during the third quarter of the book when it seemed that nothing eventful would ever happen and I was anxious to bring this novel to a close.

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
This was my first Louise Erdrich experience and what a wonderful one it was! I didn't want the story to end. The story of Father Damian Modeste/Agnes was brilliant and the characters throughout the book very vivid. I will read all she has written.

Louise Erdrich Creates Magic Again
"The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" is Erdrich at her best. While I find all her works amusing and entertaining, works to be savored and not just read, Little No Horse pulls together the best elements of her talent. There is passion, death, humor (both subtle and blatant), excellent characterization, and a plot that is tightly bound from beginning to end while loosely juggled between various character points of view. Her characters, whether central or peripheral, are believeable, understandable, and in some ways ordinary while carving out a niche in the extraordinary or mysterious. There are wonderful tales within the larger story. Tales that are crafted well in themselves but always work towards enlightening the pathway of plot or character development. The book begins where "Tales of Burning Love" left off, but quickly moves back to 1912 so that those with little or no experience in Erdrich's novels need not worry about being left out. "Little No Horse" is both prequel and sequel. Entertaining on a surface level, but it also brings to light many issues worthy of reflecting on long after you are done reading. A true work of art.

The Antelope Wife
Published in Audio Cassette by HarperAudio (August, 1998)
Author: Louise Erdrich
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Not Erdrich's best work
I must say that I was somewhat dissapointed with this book. I expected more depth from the characters than what they could give. I miss characters like Lipsha, as complex as the stories of which they were a part. As usual, all the characters are tied to one another in a knot which has no beginning or end. Unfortunately, the depth which they lack makes this, as another person commented "hard to follow". Erdrich ties them together for the sake of having them tied; many of the connections among them are forced at best. The big, loose, loopish, way in which the story is written makes this the most authentic piece of Native American Fiction Erdrich has ever written. Had the characters been more developed, it would have been one of her best.

The power of love
Lousie Erdrich's writing wraps the reader in intricate strands of symbolism, characters and shifting time and place. Stories are woven, questions are raised and as time passes answered. The strands begin to straighten out and make sense. Re-reading the book to get it all straight is a treat and a gift. I will gladly settle into Erdrich's writing over authors who leave no question marks or connections to ponder any day.

The power, danger and wonder of intense love is but one of the journeys the reader will take in this book.

This is my favorite Erdrich book
This is definitely one of her best works yet. It is a spellbinding and powerful book.

The Range Eternal
Published in Hardcover by Hyperion Press (October, 2002)
Authors: Louise Erdrich, Steve Johnson, and Lou Fancher
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