Oh, Louise: how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! (Apologies, Ms. Browning.)
1. You always deliver, right out of the gate The opening of LaRose isOh, Louise: how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! (Apologies, Ms. Browning.)
1. You always deliver, right out of the gate The opening of LaRose is a punch in the gut, (view spoiler)[the death of a child at the hands of a good man (hide spoiler)], and the quiet that precedes this stunning premise makes the impact all the more devastating.
2. The rhythm of your prose requires a slow. thoughtful pace, enriching my reading experience Once again, I'm stunned by the poetry of the prose here, the sustained slow burn, the lyricism, and the elegiac tenor that pulses through the story as it courses back and forth between the past and present, like a river that ebbs and flows with the seasons.
3. Characters in your work are the most human--strong, frail, funny, infuriating--I've ever met I adore the people that populate LaRose! Their humanity is heartrending, it is exasperating, it is authentic. Erdrich is equally adept at writing convincing characters of all types: women and men, children and adults, indigenous and anglo, contemporary and historical, corporeal and spirit. Peopled by bona fide heroes that are tragically flawed, the cast of LaRose are genuine and believable because they go on and they flourish despite their wounds.
4. Every theme you tackle is life-affirming while simultaneously exposing the hard truths of what it means to be a human being struggling to survive in difficult circumstances They're all here: loss, grief, fidelity, addiction, suicide, class, race, marginalization, revenge, justice, friendship, and family and love of all stripes. Deftly and subtly rendered, every one, without any hint of heavy-handedness or maudlin sentimentality.
5. The sense of place in your work is extraordinary, a central character that is integral and defining The setting of the story, this pulsing, seasonal, alive landscape of the upper Plains, in all its physical beauty and isolation, comes alive in LaRose. Shaped by the unique characteristics of this remote environment, residents of this far-northern swath of North Dakota identify themselves in part by their relationship to their particular piece of land. Local consciousness includes traditional knowledge and spiritual practices spawned by the natural world, fostering a sense of attachment and belonging specific to the geographic locale. Set elsewhere, this would have been a completely different story because of the intimate nature of the cultural identity in this distinct place.
6. Your compassion and love for the native peoples of the world you create imbues your work with their rich history, both compelling & poignant I've made my home in a several regions still populated by indigenous peoples, and my interest in cultures not my own makes me curious about my neighbors' experiences. Erdrich's works are inspired by the histories of tribal nations of another region, the Aunishinaubay/Anishinaabe, and over the years of immersing myself in her fictional interpretations of their world, I'm still getting to know them and their stories. They never cease to surprise me, and I am smitten.
Although I read LaRose slowly, savoring the taste and texture of the words and the feelings they engender, I also couldn't stop, couldn't set it down. I read greedily, devouring its almost-400 pages in just about 24 hours, engorged but not sated. I look forward to the next time I sit at the table with Louise Erdrich to feast on her sublime storytelling.
----------------- I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review...more
Perfect selection for this rainy Winter Solstice! I'm a huge fan of mythopoeic literature (yes, back-of-book writers of author biographies, some of usPerfect selection for this rainy Winter Solstice! I'm a huge fan of mythopoeic literature (yes, back-of-book writers of author biographies, some of us do read your contributions), and Loki inhabits an honored seat in my heart, so this wee novella was bound to tickle me. Kudos to Neilhimself for breathing new life into revered classics. Here's to hoping World Book Day 2016 will light another fire of inspiration in his pen.
If you like birds, and small planes, and natural history mysteries (one of my favorite trifectas), you'll probably enjoy this research travelogue likeIf you like birds, and small planes, and natural history mysteries (one of my favorite trifectas), you'll probably enjoy this research travelogue like I did.
I rarely read short story collections; they don't stick to my ribs at all, & I tend to forget them quickly. But I adore Gaiman's work, & thisI rarely read short story collections; they don't stick to my ribs at all, & I tend to forget them quickly. But I adore Gaiman's work, & this anthology is an exception to my usual rule. I loved almost every one, expect to remember them, and -- best of all - look forward to re-reading them regularly in years to come.
Finished this last night and I'm enamored! With the book, with Amanda, and - HALLELUJAH! - with my own art. AmandaWARNING: Personal disclosures ahead!
Finished this last night and I'm enamored! With the book, with Amanda, and - HALLELUJAH! - with my own art. Amanda Fucking Palmer, where have you been all my life?!? Let me explain...
Some here know I have at times called myself, rightly or wrongly, a fiber artist. But I stopped not only using this label, but stopped my artistic endeavors altogether. Just. Stopped. When pressed, I've said it's because I lost my mojo, but after reading The Art of Asking, I really believe it's because I was arrested by 'The Fraud Police', my inner I'm-not-good-enough/I-don't-deserve-it critic that is screaming that I'm not really an artist, that I shouldn't even bother trying, that I'm a delusional freak for ever wanting to believe it was possible. Literally, I was arrested, as in stopped in my tracks.
But this, THIS book is the cure for The Fraud Police.
The Art of Askingisn't just for artists looking for self-belief, though. In fact, after watching AFP's TED talk on the subject of accepting help (the spark for the book, I believe), I was expecting mostly that: how to ask for and accept help from others, particularly in the context of struggling artists. (Palmer is, after all, the woman who garnered over $1mil on Kickstarter for a self-released album after kicking her label to the curb - the biggest music project crowdfunding campaign ever achieved at the time).
The book is, however, much more than that. It's really about how to build community, how to create your chosen family; a valuable skill and potentially necessary strategy in the times we live in, whether you are an artist or not. Palmer relies heavily on memoir to describe this process: much of the book, particularly in the second half, is anecdotes from her life as a rock star, internet phenom, and love-goddess-cum-foil to her husband Neil Gaiman. She shares these stories as examples of how she overcame her own inner craptastic critic and spread the gospel of the sharing ethos. But that's just another high-falutin' way of saying community. Everyone, I think Palmer would argue, is an artist of some persuasion; find your gift, give it away, see what happens.
Best thing I got from this book? Now I'm ready to stop worrying about whether or not I'm any good and just make some fucking art. And, I'm ready to finally learn to play my orange ukulele, no matter how fucking awful I sound.
Finally, The Art of Asking is the very best of donuts (it's a metaphor, read the book).
Thank you, Amanda Palmer.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I stumbled across a review for this book on BrainPicking.com (read here). Amanda's TED talk is here, and her wonderful blog can be found here. -------
Did a quick re-read to re-familiarize myself with the story before beginning Year of the Flood and after looking at my review from the first go-roundDid a quick re-read to re-familiarize myself with the story before beginning Year of the Flood and after looking at my review from the first go-round discovered I enjoyed it even more the second time. Apparently, I was initially unsure if I'd continue on with the trilogy; I will. I am. ...more
Stumbled across a copy of Atwood's sophomore offering at a local charity shop & couldn't believe my good fortune: at only 50 cents, a bargain at tStumbled across a copy of Atwood's sophomore offering at a local charity shop & couldn't believe my good fortune: at only 50 cents, a bargain at twice the price.
This early effort seemed less sophisticated than Atwood's later work, and I didn't get hooked until well into the story; I think I didn't immediately grasp the subtle humor, but when I eventually tuned in to the protagonist's inner fantasy world, my enjoyment rose steadily. This is one of those novels that gets better and better all the way to the finish line. It may not turn out to be your favorite Atwood title (it isn't mine), but do stick it out, as it is well worth the read....more
I don't know how this review slipped through the cracks when I joined & added my pre-GR reads. It remains my favorite of Ed Abbey's novels, the epI don't know how this review slipped through the cracks when I joined & added my pre-GR reads. It remains my favorite of Ed Abbey's novels, the epitome of his curmudgeonly style. Equal parts farce, environmental polemic, and elegy for a long-gone American West, The Monkey Wrench Gang is a standout.
But my new favorite thing about this book (thanks, GR!) is that it engendered the following review from a reader:
"We are reading this in my book club. So far I want to punch myself in the face. Hard. As hard as I possible can."
Best thing I've read this year. Sums up my feelings about both snarky reviewers (yes, please, punch yourself in the face Elaine. Hard. As hard as you possibly can.) AND bookclubs....more