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.    

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


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