Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog

One Amazing Thing in Normal, Illinois

Louise Erdrich - Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Dear Friends,

Last week I was invited to Normal/Bloomington Illinois.  I would speak to students, and read poetry, and looked forward to meeting those who had arranged this visit.  Lynda especially had been patient and encouraging.  Somewhere along the line I realized that David Foster Wallace had taught here, which made me think of his life and work and his graduation speech.  

I looked forward to the book in my bag, One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and to seeing again the person who would drive me.  Bill Young.  I had just finished reading Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safron Foer, and had decided that my rare and even very careful (you know, organic ranch raised creatures imagined so happy to be eaten they run eagerly to the slaughterhouse) type of meat eating was now at an end.  Bill and I talked of this.  On the way to the place I was staying, The Chateau, a unit of motorcycle state police passed us in proud formation.  We seemed to have a police escort!  But as it turned out, there was a convention of state troopers at The Chateau.  The readings of poetry, for a radio show all poetry, and the readings in general, went very well and I couldn't have been more hospitably treated.  I loved walking into the Chateau, past the old tapestry, over the tired new carpet.  Bill and I decided to have a post-reading glass of wine in The Lido bar.  It was filled with rowdy and roaring state troopers, but who do you call when they are the ones disturbing the peace?  

Bill and I went out for a burger -- well, a veggie burger, which can be had at Burger King.  Ours must have been sitting deep in the freezer, said Bill.  For a long time.  But he ate it and we had a glass of wine -- from the Chateau cellar.  The goblet was huge, but of course one would expect that at a Chateau.  I wanted to see the wine cellar, but as the library was mainly American Jurisprudence and Janet Evanovich, and some diet books, Bill said that the wine cellar might not be what I expected.  So up I went to One Amazing Thing, which I intended to fall asleep reading.  Early on I realized that Chitra was throwing a plot at me!  An irresistible plot where a mini-UN of interesting people get trapped by a disaster and each must come up with a story.  Oh no!  Oh yes!  I was up very late.  I read straight through because this is the sort of book that pulls you along.  Divakaruni is so adept with her characterizations.  She has a light touch with people.  She is a careful, evocative writer.   I wanted to be any of the several beauty salons described so lovingly.  I wanted to eat the bits of food described with such delicacy.  Chitra Divakaruni has written 14 books and they just keep getting better.  I think I enjoyed this one the most, lying there in my French (?) four poster bed, French (?) scenes of rural life on the wall, wishing for another French (?) veggie burger, or another goblet from the Chateau cellar.  Outside the rain fell and fell.  The next morning driving back to O'Hare we were passed by a state police car hauling a trailer with motorcycles strapped onto it.  Were the troopers still reeling in the Chateau?  Was the rain too dangerous?  Had they forgotten their rain gear?  We will never know.  But I am still a vegetarian.  

And today, back in Minneapolis, I still admire this line from One Amazing Thing, "She ignored Uma superbly, as people do when faced with those those abject destinies they control."  Haven't we all been ignored superbly?  How I hate it when my abject destiny is controlled by others.    

chitra divakaruni commented on 13-Nov-2009 07:31 AM
Thank you Louise, whose own wonderful Love Medicine helped me become a writer. I am so honored that you enjoyed One Amazing Thing.
Paula Sullivan commented on 13-Nov-2009 12:53 PM
My partner of 44 years and I have just discovered Louise's novels, poems, etc. Even though I taught creative writing and composition for decades at a community college and assigned anthology readings by Erdrich, I am released from grading endless essays and short stories to fill up my cup again. Where to begin--in no particular order of publication dates, we started with audio books for the drive home from Minneapolis to Tulsa in August, Four Souls (Tracks is for the next road trip) We were hooked, Master Butcher's Singing Club, The Last Report of . . . Little No Horse, Painted Drum,Doves. What a pleasure to read such moving stories, so eloquently put down as if transmitted from other worlds. My kind of reading! Thank you, Louise Erdrich, for inspiring me to take up writing again. Perhaps one day, on our visits to Minneapolis where our daughter and her family live just a blocks from Birchbark, we can thank you in person. Many of our friends are now reading your novels, too.
Post a Comment!

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


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