Michael's Reviews > Love Medicine

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
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Mesmerizing, interlocking tales of unforgettable Native American characters. Depite the darkness of poverty, alcoholism, and cultural oppession, love and zest for life sing in these stories by various members of two families of Ojibwe Indians (Chippewa) on a mythical reservation in North Dakota from the 30's to the 80's. Published in 1984, it was revised in 1993 (and I understand again more recently). The surprises of love and extremes people will go to out of love are well illustrated, as are the consequences of uncertain parentage on the children. I feel this novel ran out of steam in the last 100 pages or so, and it did not achieve a meaningful resolution for me. Erdich's wonderful prose rendered in a comfortable conversational storyteller's style (often tagged as "luminous") are fully developed here, but her skills in ironic humor and approach to mythic perspectives improve with later novels. Despite the title, "Love Medicine" employs only a brief narrative about the use of potions to address love problems, which results in unintended consequences. The Pillager family, which has these magical medicine powers, figures more in "Tracks", which brings to life the powerful and sexual Fleur, to me the most captivating of Erdrich's characters. She becomes the central character of her 2004 novel "Four Souls", which I ultimately enjoyed the best of all in the series.

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