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Tracks

(Love Medicine)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  10,223 ratings  ·  562 reviews
Set earliest in time within the cycle of her prizewinning and bestselling books, Love Medicine and The Beet Queen, Tracks takes readers to North Dakota at a time when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their land. Features many familiar characters.
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published September 1st 1988 by Henry Holt & Company (first published 1988)
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,223 ratings  ·  562 reviews


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Aubrey
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 genocide, 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 postmoder
...more
Brandon
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
drk
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 5-star
We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall

The opening sentences of Tracks read like a lament for a dying race, as Nanapush summarises its vanishing in a few powerful words. He is a nurturing figure in the tribal tradition of communal parenting and a sharman. As such, he tells of experiences that go beyond the realm of understanding and, when addressing his granddaughter Lulu, Nanapush makes it clear that issues of the here and now and of the past; things that are
...more
Elyse Walters
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is only the 2nd book I've read by Louise Erdrich --(many thanks to Michael --a member here on Goodreads),-- as he recommended it to me.

My first thought when I finished reading this novel -- "All cultures and time periods have their problems. Being born Jewish, I'm familiar with our 'meshugener' (nutty, crazy), clan. Plus, we've many Jewish writers writing about our history, our culture, our foods, our personals families -etc.
But I don't know of 'many' authors writing great stories like Lo
...more
Neal Adolph
I haven't known how to review this book. I finished it nearly a week ago, and every morning I come to my computer and try to write something up. Nothing which bears any fruit comes out.

It is an incredibly good book.

I've had books by Louise Erdrich on my shelf for many years now. I think the first one was Four Souls. I picked it up at my alma mater, at a book sale, brand new. Soft-covers only 1.99, if my memory serves me well. Over the years, as my collection of unread books expanded so did the
...more
Zanna
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native, 500gbw
Two people at opposing poles of a small, fragmentary society narrate this story, yet their accounts agree where they intersect.

I've met these women when they were older already. Their tale will not tow the line. Time will spiral, we will float like flowers on a pond. This year's snow is any year's. The constant is loss. Yet renewal is also promised softly and sadly in the telling. The story takes root in the hearer like a seed.

I love the accounts of Fleur, whose power is renowned and feared, suf
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: idle-no-more
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
Lisa
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-america
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
Allie Riley
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Xueting
3.5 stars! I loved Louise Erdrich's "The Round House" which I read years ago, so I was interested in reading her earlier work that got her known. The writing is so beautiful, Erdrich's writing is always so consistently mindblowing, the setting and characters really come to life. However, and this is more of a personal criticism than against the author... the prose felt a bit too beautiful? at times that it got rather obscure for me and I couldn't actually get what was going on sometimes. It also ...more
Maggie K
Nov 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Fleur Pillager, one of Erdrich's most memorable characters, plays out here in an alternating chapters with stories told by Nanapush ( a trickster character) and Pauline--the crow.
Although third in the series, this book is before the proceeding two timewise.
Its hard to put the lyricism into words, the beautiful pathos that is the Northern Minnesota Indian reservation. The senseless death, the pain and the betrayal. The hurt that cannot be healed of a culture losing a generation of ch
...more
Jean
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: studies
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. Anyway, this is quite irrelevant for the rating.

After reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye - which belonged to the same university course - and because The New York Times Book Review compared
...more
Charles
Jan 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
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
Brian
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Erica
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Erdrich book I read. It was also the first novel by a Native American woman I'd read. It was an assignment in my women's studies course and I was very young and very sure of myself and very knowledgeable about every little thing in the world.
For some reason that I don't remember now, this book knocked me down my hill and left me muddied and scratched at the bottom.
I've been a fan of Erdrich ever since.
Irene
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being written with Erdrich’s consistent talent, this book failed to grab me. I am certain that the fault is with me. I struggle with magical realism and it was ubiquitous in this book. The depiction of one character’s Catholic spiritual experiences was far from positive, bordering on the demonic, which I found off-putting. Throughout the book, I felt like a voyeur listening to a family story that was not meant for my ears, for which I did not have sufficient context and to which I was no ...more
Zoe Brooks
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magic-realism
Tracks is a tale of a key moment in the destruction of Native American culture and society in the face of illnesses brought by the white man (we started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall) and the machinations of the government officials and commercial companies interested in exploiting the natural resources that the Native Americans had both relied on and cherished: once the bureaucrats sink their barbed pens into the lives of Indians, the paper starts flying, a bliz ...more
Thomas
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Lisa
Apr 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My mum
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
Krista
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.

Tracks is exactly my favourite kind of book: a fresh viewpoint on history that blends fact with poetic language, imprinting both my mind and heart with an author's voice and vision. In this case, the time is early 20th century, the place is the Anishinabe Reservation in North Dakota, and author Louise Erdrich uses a blend of magical realism, Catholic mysticism, and Native mythology to reinterpret the accepted narrative o
...more
Anna
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book by Louise Erdrich and I loved it. It was magic and painful and desperate but still slow and beautiful. The different responses of two of the main characters to hard lives, where both were strong and went kind of mad, but in ways that made it very clear how these differences in their reactions and their ways with other people, whether they inspired fear or disdain, had consequences.
Cheri
This book reminded me of The Woman Warrior in its use of magical realism to interpret lives that are on the borders of two cultures. I was completely drawn in.
Steve Shilstone
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The prose! 'They cracked in my ears like a fist through ice.' The people! Fleur! Pauline!
Larry Bassett
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Belle
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
But once the bureaucrats sink their pens into the lives of Indians, the paper start flying, a blizzard of legal forms, a waste of ink by the gallon, a correspondence to which there is no end or reason. That’s when I begin to see what we were becoming, and the years have borne me out: a tribe of file cabinets and triplicates. a tribe of single-space documents, directives, policy. A tribe of pressed trees. A tribe of chicken-scratch that can be scattered by the wind, diminished to ashes by one st ...more
B
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephen by: my wife
I read Tracks after Four Souls not knowing that the latter is a sequel to Tracks. One can get away with this in Erdrich, as time relationships and genetic relationships are mutable book to book. Would recommend reading Tracks before Four Souls. It fills out the characters of Nanapush and Margaret so that my annoyance with Nanapush in Fours Souls is seen to be unwarranted. It also tells the reader why Fleur Pillager has to go to Minneapolis early in the pages of Four Souls.
The (now five) Erdrich
...more
Paige
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book I’ve read by Louise Erdrich and I think it might be my favorite so far. I loved the magical realism elements and the poetic language. The story she tells is important, and the characters are interesting. The only problems I had it with it were my own: I tend to read at a pretty fast clip, and there are parts of this book that definitely want to be savored and read more slowly than I’m used to. It’s not that the writing is difficult; it’s more like it wants to immerse you i ...more
Diane S ☔
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Melody Schwarting
I do enjoy a good Erdrich novel.



Tracks is told from the perspectives of Nanapush and Pauline (view spoiler). Here, we see religion and nature richly entwined, economics and justice at odds, and the relentless tug of death. I read this in summer, but I'd recommend it for the bitterness of winter.

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was the first book I read by Louise Erdrich, and it wove itself into my consciousne
...more
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Engaging Books: Second Books: Tracks 2 4 Nov 26, 2018 11:18PM  
Around the Year i...: Tracks, by Louise Erdrich 1 9 Aug 21, 2018 09:49PM  
500 Great Books B...: Tracks - Louise Erdrich 4 47 Jul 31, 2015 11:16PM  
a good order for erdrich? 3 50 Mar 08, 2012 01:57PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Love Medicine (7 books)
  • Love Medicine
  • The Bingo Palace
  • Tales of Burning Love
  • The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
  • Four Souls
  • The Painted Drum
“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” 68 likes
“Some have ideas. You know how old chickens scratch and gabble. That's how the tales started, all the gossip, the wondering, all the things people said without knowing and then believed, since they heard it with their own ears, from their own lips, each word.” 9 likes
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