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The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich
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Feb 05, 2009

Not her best, not her worst, say critics of Erdrich's 10th novel. Yet though it's leaner than works like The Master Butchers Singing Club and not as brilliant as others, it's pure Erdrich, full of grace, legend, and mysticism. Here, she weaves together three stories, each about mother-child relationships, over time and place. Critics agree that Ojibwe elder Bernard Shaawano's story is the strongest and most memorable; Erdrich renders reservation life impeccably. Faye's story, by contrast, is a little too sentimental; as a character, she is more "dull-plumaged" than interesting (Houston Chronicle). Still, the novel possesses a charming, mystical power, and the story resounds. Despite the serious, ominous tone of the novel, it's actually a tale of redemption__even joy.

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.


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