Engl 328's Reviews > Love Medicine

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
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Mar 03, 2011

Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich was born in Little Falls, Minnesota she was the eldest of seven kids. She grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota where her parents influenced her to write. Her father was a German American, and her mother who was Native American. In 1972, Erdrich was one of the first women admitted to Dartmouth College. She majored in English and creative writing, and took courses in the Native American Studies program. She graduated in 1976.
At Dartmouth Louise met her husband professor Michael Dorris. Dorris was head of the Native-American studies department, later he would not only become her husband but he also collaborated with her on works. With Dorris as her agent, the two first wrote romantic fiction under the name Milou North to earn extra money. Milou was a combination of their first names, and north referred to their location. They only two works that have Erdrich's and Dorris's names, The Crown of Columbus and Route Two, a collection of travel essays.
Dorris had adopted three children before his marriage to Erdrich, then later Erdrich adopted them and the couple had three more children together. In 1991, their oldest child was killed in a car accident. This did not help the depression that was carried by Dorris and in return it put a strain on the marriage and the two separated after fifteen years of marriage. In 1997, Dorris committed suicide. Erdrich moved to Minneapolis, only a few hours away from her parents in North Dakota.
Erdrich has visited and re-visited the North Dakota lands where her ancestors lived; to experience the Chippewa experience in the Anglo-American literary tradition. Many critics state that Erdrich has remained true to her Native ancestors’ mythic and artistic visions while writing fiction that explores the cultural issues facing modern-day Native Americans and mixed heritage Americans.
At the time of Erdrich’s writings, the world had been going through many changes especially with mixed-children of many races. At the beginning of 2000 the spike of bi-racial children has almost tripled. This was not as popular as the childhood of Louise Erdrich. At this time Native-Americans have been becoming more of an influence to everyday American life.
Erdrich's fiction has been influenced both by her heritage and her life experiences. Her father's parents ran a butcher shop. Jacklight contains a section of poems entitled "The Butcher's Wife." A butcher shop is also featured in her novels The Beet Queen and Tracks. After college one of her many jobs was waitressing. Waitresses appear in several of her works. Erdrich told Miriam Berkley in an interview with Publishers Weekly, “I ended up taking some really crazy jobs, and I’m glad I did. They turned out to have been very useful experiences, although I never would have believed it at the time.” Erdrich was an editor for the Circle, a Boston Indian Council newspaper. Erdrich told Writers Digest interviewer Michael Schumacher: “Settling into that job and becoming comfortable with an urban community—which is very different from the reservation community—gave me another reference point. There were lots of people with mixed blood, lots of people who had their own confusions. I realized that this was part of my life—it wasn’t something that I was making up—and that it was something I wanted to write about.”
The poems in Jacklight showedthe conflict between Native and non-Native cultures, but they also celebrate family bonds with dramatic monologues and love poetry, as well as showing the influence of Ojibwa myths and legends. Erdrich has always claimed that her childhood, spent in a community of story-tellers, influenced her work. Much of Erdrich’s poetry is narrative poetry, told in direct language that often relies, as in the section of Jacklight entitled “The Butcher’s Wife,” on dramatic monologue. In Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion, Lorena Laura Stookey stated that “Erdrich began her mature literary career as a poet, and the evidence of her origins can be found in her lyrical prose, in her deft use of imagery and metaphor, and in her employment within her fiction of patterned designs and recurring motifs. She began to move from poetry to fiction in 1980, when she became conscious of the narrative elements at work in her poems.” The characters reflect her own ancestry, German and Chippewa. Her stories show the experience of struggle, hardship, hope, love and unforgiving terrain of North Dakota
The earth was full of life and there were dandelions growing out the window, thick as thieves, already seeded, fat as big yellow plungers. She let my hand go. I got up. "I'll go out and dig a few dandelions," I told her. Outside, the sun was hot and heavy as a hand on my back. I felt it flow down my arms, out my fingers, arrowing through the ends of the fork into the earth. With every root I prized up there was a return, as if I was kin to its secret lesson. The touch got stronger as I worked through the grassy afternoon. Uncurling from me like a seed out of the blackness where I was lost, the touch spread. The spiked leaves full of bitter mother's milk. A buried root. A nuisance people dig up and throw in the sun to wither. A globe of frail seeds that’s indestructible.
“Love Medicine” (1984)

Imagination (textbook), C. E. Merrill, 1981.
Jacklight, New York: Holt, 1984.
Love Medicine (1984)
The Beet Queen (1986)
Tracks (1988)
Baptism of Desire, Harper, 1989.
Route Two, Lord John Press, 1990.
(With Michael Dorris) The Crown of Columbus, HarperCollins, 1991.

The Bingo Palace, HarperCollins, 1994.
The Falcon: A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, Penguin (New York City), 1994.
The Bingo palace (1995)
Tales of Burning Love (1997)
The Antelope Wife (1998)
The Last report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001) LP
The Master Butchers Singing Club (2002) **, ***
Four Souls (2004)
The Painted Drum (2005)***

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “Louise Erdrich”. 2009 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Great Plains StudiesLincoln,NE. http://www.unl.edu/plains/publication...

Poetryfoundation.org. article.rss “Louise Erdrich (1954 - )” Poetry Foundation 2010 http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/l...

“Louise Erdrich” St. Charles Public Library, reader services 02/07 http://www.stcharleslibrary.org/reade...

Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Volume 62, “Louise Erdrich”. Gale Group, Inc. 1998. Copyright 2001 http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/...


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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Engl (new) - added it

Engl 328 Great background information on Erdrich's life. What book did you choose to add to the anthology? If it is Love Medicine, what about it made you choose that one?

message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann and now she has written THE ROUND HOUSE which begins with scene of digging up roots of trees that are a nuisance. Nut nothing compares to the opening line in LOVE MEDICINE.

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