Good Minds Suggest: Louise Erdrich's Favorite Monstrous Moms

Posted by Goodreads on November 1, 2017
Louise Erdrich

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Louise Erdrich is the author of 16 novels as well as volumes of poetry, children's books, and short stories. Her most recent novel, LaRose, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction, while The Round House received the National Book Award for Fiction. She is a Turtle Mountain Chippewa and lives in Minnesota with her daughters. She's also the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

In Erdrich's latest novel, the dystopian thriller Future Home of the Living God, evolution stops as mysteriously as it began. Pregnancy and childbearing quickly become issues of state security. Cedar, the 26-year-old adopted daughter of idealistic Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant. As Cedar travels north to find her Ojibwe family, ordinary life begins to disintegrate.

Here Erdrich shares her favorite literary monstrous moms. "No mother can measure up to the impossible standards set for us," she says. "Maybe that's why I would rather measure myself against appalling mothers who make a somewhat adequate mom, like me, look good."

Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn
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"[I recommend] The Patrick Melrose novels, especially Mother's Milk. Captivated by a grasping fake mystic, this hatefully passive mom gives away the son's beloved childhood home."


You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
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"Sherman's mom was an incredible antihero, capable of cruelty and wisdom, and Sherman's author-read audio is over the top, a torrent of wit, rage, and consuming love."


The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis
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"The mother who adopts our hero isn't really so bad; she just gives her underage chess genius beer, but I will use her laxity as a way to recommend one of my all-time-favorite books."


The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
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"Deserted by a lousy husband, this mom totally deserves to go insane, but the tension and the details about the dog and the paper knife gave me an emotional hangover, so be warned."


Angels by Denis Johnson
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"Jamie drags her innocents along into the hell of her addictions in an utterly savage and wildly compelling first novel that will send you on a mission to read everything that Johnson wrote."



Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.



Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Duanne (new)

Duanne Walton No thoughts on Norman Bates' mother? What kind of mother was she to make him the way he was?


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan I also loved "The Queen's Gambit", and have foisted it upon friends for years. Would love to see it made into a movie.
Henny Pollit, the mother in "The Man Who Loved Children", by Christina Stead, should be on this list as well. It is, in my opinion, one of the great novels of the 20th century, but continues to be largely unread (sigh). Jonathan Franzen wrote a wonderful review of it in the NY Times in 2010


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Gager Great list! I've read "Angels" and "Mothers Milk." I have read everything(all the novels at least) that Denis Johnson wrote, and I have read the Patrick Melrose quintet. DJ's output varies in quality, but the Melrose stuff is ALL aces.


message 4: by Chris (new)

Chris Gager I forgot ... what about Mary Karr's mother? From "The Liar's Club" and HER mother(Karr's grandmother)? Yikes!


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