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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  6,410 ratings  ·  335 reviews
Set in North Dakota at a time in this century when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their lands, Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women are pushed to the brink of their endurance, yet their pride and humor prohibit surrender. The...more
Published June 19th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 1988)
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A tribe of chicken-scratch that can be scattered by a wind, diminished to ashes by one struck match.
You wouldn't make a Disney movie out of the Holocaust, would you? Then why does Pocahontas exist? I was only recently led to this argument by the Internet, and it is yet another of many that I wished I had come across much, much, much earlier.

This book has the whole 'magical realism' thing going on, like so many other pieces of work not written by white people, who have their fantasy, their postm...more
Because I loved reading William Faulkner in college, when I discovered in Louise Erdrich a similar depth of voice, honest characters and a consistent imaginative setting, I fell in love with her writing, too.

(In the interest of disclosing bias, I grew up in the farming town of Valley Center near several Indian reservations. The relationship of Argus to Matchimanito is close to what it’s like around Palomar Mountain, but that's another story.)

Tracks tells the history of Benign Neglect through t...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
A great read - moving, evocative, really takes you into the hearts and minds of the Native American loss of culture, land, traditions and how it affected individuals on a personal, as well as community, level. In this, reminded me very much of Joseph Boyden's Through Black Spruce, esp. in its tracing of the path of divisions within native communities and the outcomes of their brutalization in addictions, madness, suicide and violence.

Overlaid here, though, is Erdrich's unique and thrilling use...more
Allie Whiteley
I should perhaps have read this before "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" and "Four Souls", but no matter. It was the first book in the saga of the Kashpaws, Pillagers, Lazarres and Morrisseys of the Ojibwe reservation. The story is told alternately from the viewpoints of Nanapush and Pauline Puyat (later to become Leopolda) and focuses on the years before Fleur Pillager left for the city to get back what was rightfully hers. Consumption has the people dropping like flies, food...more
For centuries, the aboriginal people of North America have suffered through countless forms of injustice, some brazenly violent, others more subtly sowing the seeds of despair. Loss, hunger and sadness are abiding themes that thread through the Native American experience. Many did not, could not survive through the death and disintegration of their societies. You can read about the litany of massacres that took place in the 1860's, the crunchy grit of the matter, in Dee Brown's viciously unspari...more
Haunting book about the disintegration of a Native American community in North Dakota in the early 20th century, as the land they live on is sold off to white developers.

Told in alternating chapters by two narrators - Nanapush, an old man of the tribe, still living as much by the old ways as he can, and Pauline, a youth at the beginning who unravels as she discards her heritage and comes under the influence of Christianity - revolving around their connections to Fleur Pillager, a fierce and inde...more
There are a couple of spoilers in this review... nothing that ruins the plot but even still, you have been warned.

I'm on the fence between 3 and 4 stars with this book. The only reason that I settled on the kinder of the two is because I am enamored with the character Pauline.
What do we do with such a woman? She hides behind ideologies of piety and martyrdom but Pauline is, in fact, the most wicked character in the entire novel. I can't wrap my head around Erdrich's creation. Though Pauline has...more
Diane S.
Love her writing and love her books. Apparently I have read them out of order and now have to go back and read Love Medicine. Which is more than fine with me. Nanapush has become a particular favorite of mine, and I love his sarcastic sense of humor. Another brilliant read.
Larry Bassett
Tracks is the story of a Chippewa tribe trying to fend off the depredation from nature and neighbor, clinging to the ways of the land as the town folk and lumber developers circle round waiting their time to buy the land and relocate the occupants.

From the book jacket:
Set in North Dakota at a time [in the early 20th century] when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their lands. Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Told in the alternating voices of a wise, astut
It's an adventure, reading books about one place and one set of people, but dependent on what's in the library, and what comes in on interlibrary loan. I've read about the Little No Horse rez back and forth, in all kinds of incarnations, but I'd missed Tracks until this weekend. And oh, what a beautiful book.

This is the missing link between much of what I've read before - the early stories of Nanapush, Margaret, Fleur, and Lulu; the backstory to Sister Leopolda's life; the roots of the enmity be...more
“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” So begins Louise Erdrich’s Tracks, a novel which charts the lives of a native people over ten years as the boundaries of personal and physical territory slowly erode.

Erdrich is a literary mystic. Tracks is told through alternating narrators: first by Nanapush, an older, charming character who recounts the deterioration of his people and land, and by Pauline, an orphan who slowly descends into religious fanaticism and m...more
"We started dying with the first snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall..." So begins Tracks by Louise Erdrich, my favorite book by the Minnesota-born, Anishinabe / Lakota Sioux author. Through the conflicting narratives of Nanapush and Pauline, we become woven into the story of Fleur Pillager, an orphaned Anishinabe woman whose life is as hard as the times she is born into, on her ancestral land at Matchimanitou. Throughout the story, she and the other characters use humor and the streng...more
this book is terrible. it's way over thought, and obviously romanticized by the author. it's told from two narrators, both of whom seem to insist on telling their entire story in exposition. this book has got to be around 90% exposition, and most of that is overly verbose and purple. everything in this book is overly sexualized, including at least one scene (i didnt finish, so there could be more) of a 12 year old having sex with an adult. how louise erdrich became a bestseller is beyond me, bas...more
I've obviously fallen for Erdrich's books. I love her quasi-series set among Ojibwe, and how you can read any book at any point and watch the web of connections reveal itself. This particular novel is one of her best. It follows Nanapush, Pauline, and Fleur Pillager. Fleur is a bit of a specter in many of the novels I've read previously, but here we get her more fleshed out, but no less intriguing or mysterious. The novel tackles questions of belief, motherhood, conservation, loyalty, love . . ....more
3 1/2 Stars. This is one of those books that I know I'll have to read more than once in order to fully appreciate. I think this novel asks a lot of the reader with its magical realism, very different narrators, and just the overall mystery that runs throughout, but even when you're struggling to understand exactly what's happening it's all worth it. This novel presents many questions about the characters and about life in general without always giving the answers, but for me, instead of that bei...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is the third of Louise Erdrich novels set in and around Argus, North Dakota. This novel is set the earliest in time, early in the 20th century. Changes are taking place in regard to the Indian and government relationship. This story is told by two alternating characters: Nanapush, a tribe elder who strongly resists the government control; and Pauline, an eccentric young woman who leaves her heritage behind for the church. Through their eyes we see the change that is wrought on these Native...more
I didn't like the novel at all.

First of all, I already didn't like how the book started, with five pages of 'High Praise for Tracks'. Short snippets of praise are part of every book, but five pages of it creates the impression that the publisher has no faith in the inherent literary qualities of the book for an independent introduced into the literary world. Anyway, this is quite irrelevant for the rating.

After reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye - which belonged to the same university course...more
I came to this book via the movie.
The movie I found lacking, it left me with the feeling of watching a selfish act.
And there we have the storytelling flaw of the medium of movies.

The book is so different, so very much more rewarding.
It was something akin to reading Zen and the Art of motorcycle Maintenance.
The craziness of society, of our programming, only clearly viewed from stepping outside of it.
Despite the many years since the trip took place, key elements resonated as insights into a better...more
What a sad and painful read. However, the characters are strong willed and proud and refuse to allow discrimination/racism/hatred/prejudice/violent crimes to destroy them. Told in flashbacks in contemporary times, we see the lives of many Native Americans in the early 1900's. The purpose of the telling? A grandfather wants to impart wisdom to his granddaughter.
A piece of crap. The worst book I've read in some years. The multiperspectivity of the narration is horrible. The story itself could have been good had it not been for this disjointed attempt at creating multiple perspectives.

The characters were flat. The story forced.
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Summary: I finished it just to finish it. And that's not a good thing to say about a novel.

It's set in North Dakota during the days when the Indians were dying of white man's diseases, poisoned with white man's liquor, and slowly selling off their land or losing it for unpaid taxes. There's nothing huge or dramatic in the story, just people you feel like you know telling the story of life. I should have loved it, but....

How can such uniquely eccentric people undergoing funny, peculiar, and downr...more
Well..this is a keeper!! Living in the Yukon a very small Indian community..much of this book is 'relatable'. (is there such a word?) Always I enjoy stories from storytellers..and Louise Erdrich is an amazing storyteller. Thank you.
Emily Schirmer
Tracks – Louise Erdrich

This book is unlike any I’ve read before. It was a gift from my brother, who actually had the honor of meeting Louise Erdrich. My brother read this book and loved it, so I knew right away that it would be well-written and unique. And it certainly was.

Like I said, ‘Tracks’ is unlike any book I’ve read before, and is probably not a book I ever would have chosen to read on my own. But that is all the more reason I’m so excited it was gifted to me: I love reading books that a...more
Alex Kennard
This is a fascinating book charting the slow disintegration of a First Nation in North Dakota through the lives of a small, makeshift family. Focused on a woman named Fleur, sole survivor of her family, & told from the perspectives of her adopted father Nanapush & the tortured Pauline, this story is gripping & powerful.

Erdrich creates a world in which tradition & magic are funnelled through perspective, undermining while also growing magic realism into new directions. The plot w...more
Mike Clinton
Although it's only 226 pages, this book reads like a saga. The events it recounts are set in the early 20th century on a North Dakota reservation whose inhabitants confront dramatic historical and personal challenges and changes. I spent only a couple of days with the book's characters, so it's testimony to Erdrich's skill as storyteller that I feel as though I've known them much longer. The saga itself is really composed of a series of interlocking stories spanning a range of about 10 years, mo...more
Clearascrystal Rhoney
Erdrich does a wonderful job of painting a believable Native American tale set firmly in history, yet somehow existing outside of it. The clash between "old" and "new," both in character, religion, tradition, and way of life makes for a really interesting and meaningful read rife with metaphor and symbolism that far exceeds the reach of merely a Native American novel. I have a feeling that anyone who has experienced any rite of passage - be that the loss of a loved one, a crisis of faith, or los...more
Caroline Alicia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy Miller
Tracks was written by Louise Erdich after she wrote "Love Medicine"--one of my all time favorite books--but takes place between 1912 and 1924, well before the stories of Love Medicine and give a background and context to the members of Love Medicine's families, especially Eli Kapshaw and Lulu

A major difference between the two books was the influence of magical realism which was not particularly present in Love Medicine. It sometimes worked in Tracks, especially the chapter that depicts the rape...more
Al Gritten
I first met Louise Erdrich in "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" which was both different and thought provoking. Erdrich writes with insight into life in the Dakotas and among Native Americans and offers intriguing plots, lyrical prose, and very strong characterizations. This book explores the tracks of a dying culture through the eyes of a grandfather telling his granddaughter about her family. Erdrich paints the atmosphere of Native American life on the edge of civilization,...more
The story is told in two alternating narrating voices: Nanapush, a Chippewa elder, and Pauline, a Catholic converted mixed blood. The story spans twelve years, from 1912 to 1924. Nanapush is telling his story to Lulu, his social granddaughter, while Pauline seems to be talking to no one in particular. Both narrators cover the events in Fleur Pillager’s life: Nanapush saving her from sickness, her rape by Argus men, Eli Kashpaw’s romance with her, her two children, and the legends that surround h...more
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500 Great Books B...: Tracks - Louise Erdrich 2 9 Aug 07, 2014 12:10PM  
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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
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“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” 34 likes
“I tried out the unfamiliar syllables. They fit. They cracked in my ears like a fist through ice.” 7 likes
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