Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog

Not Winter Reading

Louise Erdrich - Monday, November 28, 2016

November rains and a stormy outlook. Time to plunge into a contradictory reading spree -- first Svetlana Alexievich's extraordinary work, Secondhand Time, an oral history that encompasses every emotion from extreme sorrow to the most tender love. This book of contemporary Russian voices and Soviet history is not for the faint of heart. So, when my heart went faint from descriptions of what is to live in that grand and tragic country, I turned to Amor Towles. His novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, is also about Russian/Soviet history but from the point of view of a most fortunate man. Our hero, Count Rostov, isn't executed in the first pages but instead is confined for life to the Hotel Metropol in Moscow. This is an old fashioned sort of romance, filled with delicious detail. Save this precious book for times you really, really want to escape reality. 

Back to reality -- I have resisted picking up Atul Gawande's Being Mortal for quite a while now because of the title, which would imply mortality. Once I began reading this important book I could not stop. It addresses, without fear, questions we all ask in our hearts but rarely voice. And it gives a person the tools to begin talking about . . . mortality. One's own, one's cherished family.  I gave this book to everybody in my family. Not as a Christmas gift -- I must admit it would be a downer to receive this book as a Christmas gift. But give it to yourself because you deserve clarity.

Somehow I missed talking about Ann Patchett's wonderfully human Commonwealth. Her first chapter is one of the best I've ever read -- leading to a kiss that is one of the best kisses I've ever read. The engaging and headlong family story that follows sweeps you up -- you won't stop reading until it puts you down.      

Dave Clemens commented on 09-Jan-2017 09:12 AM
I was disgracefully late in coming to Ann Patchett's work, but I recently started to catch up with Bel Canto, which I loved. Now based on your recommendation, Louise, I've put Commonwealth at the top of my list of next reads, to dig into as soon as my wife and I finish reading LaRose aloud together. (I read it for myself months ago.)
Barbara Suter commented on 27-Mar-2017 10:47 PM
My very special time...just for when I crawl into my bed each night and read another chapter or two of LaRose. I received the book as a Christmas gift because my husband knows how much I love your writing, Louise. When I am done, this book will join the dozen or so other Louise Erdrich books on my bookshelf. When I read your books I step into another world with characters I've grown to love. Congratulations, by the way, on winning the National Book Award. I can't think of anyone as deserving for the consistent love you share of your culture through your writing.
Post a Comment!

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


Anishinabemowin Dogs Aza ptsd plants devoted customers Hilary Mantel gardens Gail Caldwell The Farmer's Daughter Zombies The Birchbark House adventure Greenland support World on the Edge Pembina italy Beth Dooley The Resilient Gardener Botany The Game of Silence Let's Take the Long Way Home Islam Roberto Bolano thank you friends monkey in a dryer Catalyst thanks The Round House Unnatural Disasters Remarkable Trees anniversary Aubrey/Maturin twins Anton Treuer Up Late Again post holiday Small Bookstores as Commons Rare Books Climate Change Ice Women and Trees Chickadee School Gardens Jim Harrison Book Review Louise spring Too Loud A Solitude Vic Glover Green Team city of books favorite dog Canada Gary Clement trees Crushing Books Bill Moyers Journal Master Butchers Singing Club E.L. Doctorow Fireworks Mankato Powwow photography Alice Munro cafe closing Ha Jin More Remarkable Trees The Wealth of Nature the most romantic city in the world Nemesis green bill mckibben fresh water Mohamed's Ghosts friends The Blue Sky 2666 book and dinner club Makoons cafe germany france Kate DiCamillo Light in August Peak Water The Porcupine Year Empire of the Summer Moon favorite tree Ojibwe Emily Johnson gratitude Minnesota Keepers of the Trees Minneapolis neighborhood boarding school incarnation Ojibwemowin mississippi Wolf Hall Czech Writer show your love language revitalization leaves and snow coyote Birchbark Books health care reform Kabul peculiar touches of green and gold Poetry Tree Houses British Navy National Book Award Keystone XL S.C. Gwynne Native People Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge Interview tree books Philip Roth china Michael Jackson buffalo ireland Nero Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive Stephen Salisbury aquifer Wendy Makoons Geniusz Patrick O'Brian The Ojibwe Victory Gardens north dakota knowledge Anishinabe Kenwood Gardens This Green World Gryphon Press Afghanistan pilgrims Easter Island Tar Sands State Troopers post holiday reads ependent Video solstice, Thomas King H2Oil Dartmouth NACDI:All My Relations Chitra Divakaruni Milkweed Press how good looking you are The Royal Prussian Library William Trevor japan Peak Oil Native Arts customers The Transition Handbook Bohumil Hrabal Magers and Quinn Collective Denial Population Wastepaper euphoria Education Hillary Clinton birchbark house series Alan Weisman Too Much Happiness Brown Dog local economy Guthrie Theater favorite book sweden joy Bleak House President Obama Love graphix