Emily's Reviews > The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
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Aug 28, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: what-i-read-in-2008, funky-fiction, hersday-book-club, i-own-it
Read in September, 2008

** spoiler alert ** It’s difficult to describe The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich. On the surface, the novel tells the story of a small community in North Dakota over a span of about eighty years. The primary narrator and character in the novel is Father Damien, who is actually a woman named Agnes. Through an unusual set of events, Agnes takes on the role as priest to a small Native American Catholic church, thus becoming Father Damien. Under her charge is a young girl named Paulin possesses extraordinary powers, and in In time becomes Sister Leopolda, and after more time, Sister Leopolda is under investigation for sainthood. From the back cover of the book, this seems to be the entirety of the story. The struggle for Agnes to tell the story of Leopolda without divulging her long standing secret of being a woman.

The reality is that the novel is more about the Ojibwe community that Louise Erdrich has created to tell her story. There’s the oversexed Nanapush, the bitter Lulu, the second priest Father Gregory, the investigating priest Father Jude, Kapshaw and his 4 wives … The reality is that the book is about much more than what the back of the book would lead you to believe.

Scoring on this novel has been difficult. It’s a complex narrative, with a lot going on at any one time, and I had a hard time picking it apart in pieces rather than seeing it as a whole, but I did as best as I could …

** There is something about this woman’s books that makes me have dreams about my Grandad. This is the second novel by Louise Erdrich that I’ve read this year, and while reading both of them, I’ve had at least half a dozen dreams starring my grandfather. – Plus 3

** God bless a book with cross-dressing. – Plus 2

** There is SO much going on in this novel. For the first time in a while, it certainly seems like there was not an editor pulling out important plot points to the story to keep it under 350 pages. But all the same, it’s hard to keep all the details straight sometimes. – Minus 3

** Something I don’t quite get … the back of the edition of the book that I have mentions that Father Damien risks losing everything by revealing the whole truth. But at the same time, Father Damien guesses that he’s at least 90 years old, and probably closer to 100. How much could you really lose at that age, it’s not like he would have to start over from scratch. – Minus 2

** Nanapush & the moose … hilarity – Plus 2

** I love the murder mystery element of the novel. There are so many small towns with a crazy unsolved murder of a bad seed ruffian that creates gossip. – Plus 3

** The San Francisco Chronicle compared Erdrich to Garcia Marquez. It’s no secret that I hated Love in the Time of Cholera and I love both this book and Plague of Doves, so I’m not a huge fan of the comparison on principle. – Minus 100,000 points to the San Francisco Chronicle.

** Impossible title to remember and tell your friends about. – Minus 1

** Chapter length … pretty average. But you can’t get away with absent minded skimming in this book. So no reading half asleep on the bus or in bed. – Minus 2

** Reading Louise Erdrich’s books makes me kind of want to go North Dakota, which is a strange feeling. I also love that in her real non author life, she owns an independent book store. – Plus 2

** I kind of like how difficult it was to score this book. Seeing the forest through the trees doesn’t always happen, especially to me, since I like to pick apart all of the details. I appreciate that the combine whole overwhelmed the details. – Plus 3

** All of the priests were human in this book. There were four different priests in the novel (six if you include the pope and the old dead priest that Father Damien replaces) and each of them had their flaws, and had their weaknesses. None of them were portrayed as holy and without imperfection. And none of them had a weakness for little boys. - Plus 2

Final Tally ... 9 points. I really liked this book, but be warned, it's not for a casual reader. It's really something that you need to read in only a couple of weeks. Any more time without reading constantly, and you get lost in what's going on.
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