Love Medicine
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Love Medicine

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  11,916 ratings  ·  801 reviews
The first book in Louise Erdrich's Native American series, which also includes The Beet Queen, Tracks, and The Bingo Palace, Love Medicine tells the story of two families--the Kashpaws and the Lamartines.Now resequenced by the author with the addition of never-before-published chapters, this is a publishing event equivalent to the presentation of a new and definitive text...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by Bantam (first published 1984)
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Erdrich's first and still best-known work (because it's the one most often taught) has become something of a model for the contemporary short-story cycle, with interconnected stories devoted to a variety of interrelated characters spanning three (almost four) generations. The strength here is less in story (which centers on a love triangle and its effect on family ties) or character (vivid as they may be, they're still devoted women and unreliable men) than in style. I wouldn't call it lyrical b...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
This is the short story collection (some call it a novel) that launches the community of characters Erdrich will revisit through another five (six?) books - a form that seems entirely her own. As she says in this "newly revised" edition: "Since writing Love Medicine, I have understood that I am writing one long book in which the main chapters are also books titled Tracks, Four Souls, The Bingo Palace, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse and The Painted Drum."

One of the things I lo...more
Her clothes were filled with safety pins and hidden tears

Last week I sat on the steps of a downtown pier, stalled in the summer sun, reading my 1989 paperback edition of Love Medicine. With its Washington Husky-purple cover and title blaring in giant Brittanic Bold white font, the book must have appeared to the uninitiated like a pulp romance. Little did they know it was one of the most significant works of American fiction published in the 1980s, by an author who has become a national literary...more
If you find yourself back in the 1990s and in a college course called "Native American women authors," you should definitely read this book. All other people, including time-travelers, should skip it.
The novel is set largely on a Chippewa reservation in North Dakota, with brief forays to the Twin Cities. There is a family tree at the beginning of the book--refer to it as you read. This is essentially the story of two linked multi-generational families. The speaker shifts from chapter to chapter, as does the point in the time-line. Now we have the voice of a young student going home to visit her grandparents and worrying about her cousin, now the voice of that grandmother still a young woman,...more
Aug 20, 2007 Luisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: novel & short story enthusiasts
To write a novel, start with a good short story. Then, write another. Then, another. Recycle your characters, put them all together, and you have a novel.
Yes, I'm being glib. Actually, I'm a big fan of Louise Erdrich's work. She transitioned from poetry to short stories into novels, and while the transition was not seamless, it was, and still is, a journey and a growth the reader can experience with her. Her early novels do read like short story collections with the imagistic intesity of poetr...more
I read "Love Medicine" as an anthologized short story twice before I finally picked up the entire book. "Love Medicine" is one of the three most moving short stories I've ever read. Lipsha Morrissey's voice, his eye on the world, his confidence in his gift to heal, and . . . well, this implies the wrong metaphor, but his faith in the midst of suffering, his longing to connect to his own history despite its knotted-ness makes him a vivid and resonant character. Don't we all have screwed up famili...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Dec 01, 2008 Tattered Cover Book Store added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tattered Cover by: Rob B.
Shelves: staff-recommends
Rob says:

If you haven't treated yourself to the storytelling of Louise Erdrich, this is a great place to start. Her characters are beautiful, tragic, fun and flawed. Sometimes all in the same person! Her subsequent works develop many of the people introduced in Love Medicine. Lots of great reading to be had!
Victor Carson
I have now read six of Louise Erdrich’s novels, including her most recent book The Round House. This novel, Love Medicine was the author’s first major novel, released in 1984. Ironically, the novel might be confusing for readers who have not read some of the more recent books, since Love Medicine introduces many characters, each of whom has such a complicated relationship to the other characters that the author provides a full-page chart of the interlocking family trees. The narrative then trace...more
Before I had yet read Karen Manuelito’s examination of the intersection of interests between indigenous “womanisms,” highlighting particularly the commonalities between the experiences of African American and American Indian women, I noted the similarities between the emphases on female experience in Morrison’s Beloved and Erdrich’s Love Medicine. It’s not by accident that Morrison’s is one of the strongest voices in the chorus of praise on the back cover of the novel, noting that “(t)he beauty...more
Love Medicine is a novel set in and around an Ojibwe reservation in South Dakota. It consists of a number of vignettes and stories about various members of two families on the reservation, the Kashpaws and the Nanapush/Lamartines, whose lives are interwoven in various ways. It is remarkably well written, particularly considering that this was Erdrich's first novel. She writes a number of different characters, with very distinct voices, each sounding distinct and authentic. And the writing is bea...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
A reader once said of Erdrich: "she puts her characters through a lot." I can't say strongly enough how much I agree with this statement. The story takes place between the mid-1930s and mid-1980s on an Indian reservation in North Dakota. The characters are two inter-related Native American families who exhibit typical human frailties and emotions. Five stars. I see that others who have read this and other Erdrich novels give it only four stars. It's hard for me to believe this author can produce...more
This book actually earns six stars for the passage near the end about being "in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms."

I read this book because I remember that my grandmother loved it and I'm trying to read all of her favorite books. What if you could read all the same books that someone else read in their lifetime, in the same order, at the same age?
Read the 1993 edition of this version, same publisher and page count.

Erdrich uses a series of vignettes that together describe a complex web of family dynamics over several generations, mostly on a reservation in North Dakota. At first it was challenging to keep the family members straight, but the stories are so compelling and realistic that one is drawn in as if visiting a long-ignored relative in her kitchen and getting caught up on the life-changing events a family experiences: the births an...more
Ruby Hollyberry
One of THE best books I've ever read, from one of my top ten authors. No one can write like Louise Erdrich. Poetry becomes pointless beside prose this good. The book (and the series it is the cornerstone of) are a web of narratives, all from the same tribal reservation, the characters all relatives in some degree. They love, hate, fight, mate, and bring each other beyond sorrow into survival in ways that could never be predicted. Love Medicine is the center of time's reach here. Tracks and Four...more
Jess Michaelangelo
I wish I could pinpoint exactly what it is about Louise Erdrich that I love so much. (I suppose you'll just have to take my word for it, and go check out her writing).

This isn't a novel for people who need a strictly linear storyline. This isn't a novel for people who need an action-packed, page-flipping plot.

This is for people who enjoy character-driven plots, especially those that revolve around particular families and their drama. This is for people who enjoy soaking in the words and the wr...more
This book meanders through the lives of members of an extended North Dakota family. It spans 60 years, chronicling moments from three generations of Chippewa.

The plot's orbit is uneven as it revolves around two centers of gravity: June Morrisey on her own, and Lulu, Marie and Nector bound together. That unevenness is not a weakness; it adds complexity to a book about the ways that love binds together us and pushes us apart.

At the outset of "Love Medicine," June Morrisey is alone, heading home,...more
Sara Willis
Feb 05, 2008 Sara Willis added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: starbitrary
The rating system is starting to get to me. It is one way that the internet is rearranging values by inventing new value systems that are increasingly circumscribed. I mean, what choice do I have if my reading does not fit into five stars? Maybe it is too good or unreadable or maybe I just don't think lit up stars are an applicable way to express how I felt about it. What if I begin to judge everyone by similar ratings? I am walking down the street thinking "Oh. She is for sure two stars. But he...more
This book felt like walking into a small town and, over the course of years, sitting weekly for a long cup of tea with the oldest matriarch there who tells you, bit by bit, the stories of the people who live there. In that way, it took a while for the pieces to come together in the book. At first, the stories felt slightly disjointed, and I wanted some omniscient narrator to jump out of the book and say, "Listen, this is what's up between these two characters, and this is what happened with that...more
It took a couple of pages before I liked it, but once I was gripped by the story, it did not let me go until the very last page. Erdrich has a wonderful writing style, it is simple yet poetic. Reading this was an absolute breeze.

There are a lot of characters in this book, and if the family tree in front of the book did not scare you at first (Really, I got Wuthering Heights flashbacks), you will be baffled by the amount of relationships and links these people have with each other. I often had t...more
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Stephanie Jaros
Jan 10, 2011 Stephanie Jaros is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Not my usual type of reads. My mother-in-law recommended me this book, as the author is from ND and a native American...

The first story tells about June Kashpaw dying in a snowstorm after walking away from a man's car in the country. June was raised on a reserve in North Dakota and the rest of the book deals with all the other people who live or used to live on the reserve. The Kashpaws, the Morrisseys, the Lamartines and the Nanapushes mix and mingle. At times I found it hard to remember who wa...more
The first half of this book seemed tremendously fragmented - and as I looked up the ISBN number to mark which edition I read, I saw that several of the chapters were published as short stories before the book itself. Ohhhhh, I thought. Well. That explains that.

Viewed as vignettes of contemporary (to the '80s) reservation life in Northern Minnesota / Western North Dakota, the book hangs together better than if you read it - as I did - expecting a single story arc. That arc does appear, in the sec...more
May 24, 2008 Eileen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eileen by: anyone who wants to explore the Native American experience
The other night at our book group meeting to discuss LOVE MEDICINE, we discovered that our newest member is, like author Louise Erdrich, part Ojibwe. Needless to say, our discussion was very enriched and colored by her stories about her own Native American experiences.

Erdrich's first novel is more like a series of short stories and brief introductions to all her follow-on novels. In each subsequent book she picks up a "thread" of one character or branch of the (incredibly complex) family tree. T...more
Sara Van Dyck
The characters, setting, atmosphere in this book are so graphic, detailed, I find it hard to believe it’s fiction. It starts with what feels like a mystery –why does June wander off in the snow in1985? To understand her, Erdrich takes us back through June’s family and her people in North Dakota, starting in 1934. This is not a linear book. Each chapter is told by someone connected to the family, braided over time, one character emerging, then another, the complex relationships becoming clearer b...more
Aug 23, 2010 Lynne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: patient readers
There are no short, pithy remarks I could possibly make that would do justice to this book, so I won't even attempt it.

To say this is a book about love doesn't cover it. To say it's about two Ojibwe families as they struggle to make sense of their lives as a conquered people in 20th century America is an inadequate description too. The book is entirely unique in its voice, vision, and purpose.

The story is told with multiple points of view from several narrators from the two families. Sometimes...more
The book told the story of some of the Dakota First Nation people who lived on a North Dakota reservation from 1934 until 1984. The chapters focus on particular points of intersection between various characters and the sparks that arose from these interactions. Lulu Nanapush was a central character. She had 3 boys by different fathers, then she married a Lamartine and had 5 more boys, not all of whom were fathered by her husband. Marie Lazarre, a non-native, was another important character in th...more
This novel is a group of very interconnected short stories over many decades in the lives of members of two interconnected and very extended families - the Kashpaws and the Lamartines. Throughout the book we see what made various characters who they are in the contemporary time of the novel (the 1980s) and we see many events and scenes from the perspective of several different characters at different times. Much of what happens is about love - marriages beginning and failing, extramarrital affai...more
I can't state enough how much I love this novel, Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. Many would say it's a series of short stories that are braided together to comprise a novel, and technically that is correct. I, however, see the varying narrators and their stories as a spiritual journey for them and for the reader; as if we are sitting around a camp fire and being burned by their fiery lives and loves and then later healed and warmed by them as well. If you want to delve into a book that makes yo...more
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Book Talk: Required reading for Susan's lecture - Love Medicine 4 4 May 24, 2012 09:14PM  
Love 2 30 Jul 18, 2011 10:32AM  
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Karen Louise Erdrich is a American author of novels, poetry, and children's books. Her father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American. She is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe nation (also known as Chippewa). She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renais...more
More about Louise Erdrich...
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“Her clothes were filled with safety pins and hidden tears.” 30 likes
“Society is like this card game here, cousin. We got dealt our hand before we were even born, and as we grow we have to play as best as we can.” 26 likes
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