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263 pages, Hardcover
First published November 14, 2017
Louise Erdrich is one of the most gifted, prolific, and challenging of contemporary Native American novelists. Born in 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota, she grew up mostly in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her parents taught at Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. Her fiction reflects aspects of her mixed heritage: German through her father, and French and Ojibwa through her mother. She worked at various jobs, such as hoeing sugar beets, farm work, waitressing, short order cooking, lifeguarding, and construction work, before becoming a writer. She attended the Johns Hopkins creative writing program and received fellowships at the McDowell Colony and the Yaddo Colony. After she was named writer-in-residence at Dartmouth, she married professor Michael Dorris and raised several children, some of them adopted. She and Michael became a picture-book husband-and-wife writing team, though they wrote only one truly collaborative novel, The Crown of Columbus (1991).
The Antelope Wife was published in 1998, not long after her separation from Michael and his subsequent suicide. Some reviewers believed they saw in The Antelope Wife the anguish Erdrich must have felt as her marriage crumbled, but she has stated that she is unconscious of having mirrored any real-life events.
She is the author of four previous bestselling andaward-winning novels, including Love Medicine; The Beet Queen; Tracks; and The Bingo Palace. She also has written two collections of poetry, Jacklight, and Baptism of Desire. Her fiction has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle (1984) and The Los Angeles Times (1985), and has been translated into fourteen languages.
Several of her short stories have been selected for O. Henry awards and for inclusion in the annual Best American Short Story anthologies. The Blue Jay's Dance, a memoir of motherhood, was her first nonfiction work, and her children's book, Grandmother's Pigeon, has been published by Hyperion Press. She lives in Minnesota with her children, who help her run a small independent bookstore called The Birchbark.
“Accept life. You can be absolved of anything you did, you can completely win back God’s love, by contributing to the future of humanity. Your happy sentence is only nine months.”
In the beginning was the wordCedar Hawk Songmaker, 26, is writing a journal to her unborn child, very much hoping there will be a world left in which he or she can read it. This is a real concern, as the world appears to be going haywire. Plants and creatures, including people, are not breeding true. Giving birth, itself, has become a dodgy proposition. And who knows what will emerge?
-– John 1:1
The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. The Word manifests itself in every creature.
--Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
A car passes me bearing the bumper sticker Come the Rapture Can I Have Your Car. Oh, good, not everybody’s getting ready to ascend. I love driving. Thinking while I shoot along. If it is true that every particle that I can see and not see, and all that is living and perhaps unloving too, is trimming its sails and coming about and heading back to port, what does that mean? Where are we bound? Is it any different in fact, from where we were going in the first place? Perhaps all of creation from the coddling moth to the elephant was just a grandly detailed thought that God was engrossed in elaborating upon, when suddenly God fell asleep. We are an idea, then. Maybe God has decided that we are an idea not worth thinking about anymore.
Actually, it's about the postal system, says Erdrich...Perhaps I look dubious, because she starts to laugh. "It really is, I'm not making that up. I love the intricacies of the postal system. In the book, the US postal system decides to leave the government, and they make a compact with the National Guard so that the mail continues to be delivered."At some point she opted to write something else. Her next adult book was The Plague of Doves. She got a bit of a prod to return to this one in 2016. According to CTV News,
Louise Erdrich, speaking at a HarperCollins dinner, recalled how Trump's win drove her to take another look at a novel she had set aside years earlier, "Future Home of the Living God." The book…tells of a society in which women's rights and democracy itself are endangered,among other things. It is not clear how much of the book she had already written prior to this, and what changes she made to what she had already done.
Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.