Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

The Round House
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message 1: by Arthur (last edited Jan 01, 2013 07:05AM) (new)

Arthur Camara | 27 comments Welcome! Our first book of 2013 is the National Book Award winning novel The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Some of us will still be traveling the roads, trudging through mall parking lots, or wolfing down our second plates of holiday food (chitterlings anyone?). No problem. This is our book for the entire first month of the year, not just the first day. Join our discussion as your reading and your January time permits.


message 2: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Camara | 27 comments I can't blame New Year's Day family food for slowing me down, at least not yet. But I am still getting through the book--literary mysteries always seem to take me longer.

I'm going to take a suggestion from Columbus and borrow a few Reading Group Guide questions to start us off.

The Round House opens with the sentence: “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.” How do these words relate to the complete story that unfolds?

Though he is older as he narrates the story, Joe is just thirteen when the novel opens. What is the significance of his age? How does that impact the events that occur and his actions and reactions?

Describe Joe’s family, and his relationship with his parents. In talking about his parents, Joe says, “I saw myself as different, though I didn’t know how yet.” Why, at thirteen, did he think this? Do you think the grown-up Joe narrating the story still believes this?


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
This is my introduction to Erdrich never read her before. I didn't read The Plague of Doves but I heard it was very good. Still reading....


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 627 comments I never read this author before either. I am waiting for my eBook borrowed copy from the library and stopped the other physical copy since there were too many holds and would take probably longer than a month to get it.


message 5: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Camara | 27 comments Yeah, Adrienna, that is the complication of trying to read the hot new book that just won the big book award. So many people are thinking the same exact thing.


message 6: by Evelyn (new) - added it

Evelyn I listened to half of this book on audio before the CD started skipping, so I should be able to participate in the first half of this discussion.

I think the significance of Joe's age at the time of the story probably affects his relation to the details. The significant parts of the story are probably still vivid in his mind, but the distance in age may cloud minor events.

There is an age when most children see there parents for who they truly are, and not the all knowing or perfect beings they may see when they are younger. I think for Joe, that age is thirteen and that's why he saw himself as being different.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 627 comments Arthur wrote: "Yeah, Adrienna, that is the complication of trying to read the hot new book that just won the big book award. So many people are thinking the same exact thing."

Finally it downloaded on my tablet today to read on Kindle. However, last month, we won an award winner writer and I hated it and unable to finish. I hope this is not the case in the New Year and new read.


message 8: by Evelyn (last edited Jan 04, 2013 03:46PM) (new) - added it

Evelyn Adrienna wrote: "Arthur wrote: "Yeah, Adrienna, that is the complication of trying to read the hot new book that just won the big book award. So many people are thinking the same exact thing."

Finally it downloade..."


I hope this book works out better for you, because while I totally understand why Diaz's book made so many "Best of" lists, I don't understand why Round House won the NBA. If I hadn't been listening to it on audiobook, I wouldn't have made it as far as I did. The size of it alone scared me off. :-)


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
I searched the website for a list of Native American novelists, because for the life of me I couldn't think of any others besides Erdrich. The name that popped up consistently was Sherman Alexie, whom I had totally forgotten - my apologies to all those Alexie enthusiasts out there (and there are many). But, what struck me as odd is Erdrich's name did not appear at all on many of the lists. I checked her bio and found that her father is German and her mother is of Ojibwa and French descent. Makes you wonder if some are just not so inclined to give her that Native American designation? Or, is there something sinister going on here? Hmmm....

Also, Erdrich is not just an award-winning and celebrated author, but she has a most interesting back-story. Here's a cliff notes version:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_E...


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Evelyn wrote: "Adrienna wrote: "Arthur wrote: "Yeah, Adrienna, that is the complication of trying to read the hot new book that just won the big book award. So many people are thinking the same exact thing."

Fin..."


Evelyn, it's certainly looking like that. The response has been a mixed-bag from most of the reviews of regular reviewers I've read. Quite unfortunate because I who had never read Erdrich before and was unprepared to read something deep and detailed at this time, am really enjoying this book despite its size and exhaustive prose. If this is one of her mediocre novels, I can't wait to read her more accomplished work.


Rashida | 264 comments For those who are interested, here is our discussion of The Plague of Doves.


That book so blew me away, that when I opened up Round House and realized it was revisiting characters, I immediately put the Round House down because I didn't feel that I had adequate time or mental space to give the novel the attention it deserves. So, I am just picking it back up to finish the read. I am enjoying it, and wonder how our expectations of things color our ultimate views.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
I am a little behind as I was away until yesterday but I am hoping to catch up quickly - I am about 25% of the way in. I have always enjoyed how Louise Erdrich builds her stories - starting with a premise and then working around that premise but informing us of much more that complicates what often seems to be a straight forward premise.
I have read other works by the author including The Plague of Doves.
I was aware of her mixed heritage but while she does not deny it - whenever I have heard her speak she always gives a special shout-out to her Native American heritage.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Rashida & Beverly, I'll be curious to know what you think of the book being that you both read Doves. I understand this is the 2nd book of a planned trilogy and wondering how this book works as a stand-alone. I understand the subject and many of the characters are different but does it stay true to the themes and heart of the first book. Again, i'm enjoying this but really taking my time with it. There are just too many perfect, beautiful passages to lay them out here. I'm just falling in love with her.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Rashida & Beverly, I'll be curious to know what you think of the book being that you both read Doves. I understand this is the 2nd book of a planned trilogy and wondering how this book works as a..."

Glad you are enjoying the writing. I have not read all of Erdrich's book but I have found that her books even in a planned trilogy or series, all work well as a stand-alone for me.

Sadly I have not read a lot of different Native American writers but my go-to is Louise Erdrich. I have tried Sherman Alexis and his writing style is not for me.

The first Native American fiction author that I remember reading was Leslie Marmon Silko.


message 15: by jo (new) - rated it 2 stars

jo | 1031 comments i am a louise erdrich fan -- read quite a few of her books, including Plague of Doves, and love her -- but i finished this book solely because of this book discussion! i didn't like it. that's the long and the short of it. i think it's the first LE i don't like. crazy.

i'm surprised, columbus, that LE is not listed in the native authors list you saw. she is a big presence in the native literary community and *all* of her writing is about native americans.

i didn't even realize that some of the characters of Round House were present in Plague of Doves, apart of course from moshoon, who's actually a riot.

will come back to arthur's questions later. just wanted to say hi and that i've read the book and i'm here.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
jo wrote: "i am a louise erdrich fan -- read quite a few of her books, including Plague of Doves, and love her -- but i finished this book solely because of this book discussion! i didn't like it. that's the ..."

While I am trying to read with an open mind - but so far I am agreeing with Jo. Read a little more last night and find myself not engaged in the story.

Not quite able to put my finger on why yet - but I am wondering if it is the young boy narrator (not my prefered narrator).

I have not read any of the reviews yet as did not want to influence my reading but did hear a couple of times in the pre-release talk that this was her "best book" to date. I am not feeling that vibe.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
FYI - An article in my inbox this morning - The significance of Erdrich

http://www.chicagotribune.com/feature...


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "FYI - An article in my inbox this morning - The significance of Erdrich

http://www.chicagotribune.com/feature..."


Shucks, was unable to view without a paid ChiTrib subscription.


Kristin | 4 comments I am jealous of those who are new to Erdrich. She always brings a sense of humor and a sense of community that I don't find elsewhere. The topic of this book is a hard one, and yet there is still humor.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Beverly wrote: "FYI - An article in my inbox this morning - The significance of Erdrich

http://www.chicagotribune.com/feature..."..."


Let me see if can get it back as I was able to read and do not have a CT subscription neither.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Those frequent readers of Erdrich who are not exactly enamored with this book, i'm just curious as to what you disliked about it? Were you not fully engaged with the story? Did her writing let you down? Were the characters not interesting - specifically Joe who basically runs the story here. Was the book too lengthy unnecessarily?

I think part of the reason I enjoyed this story so much is because of Joe and his narration. The relationship between Joe and his father & mother as well as Joe and the family was so strong and the bond so real and organic. I really didn't know what to expect from this story and those relationships really pulled me in. Life on the Indian reservation was so different than what I expected. I guess I really didn't know what to expect to be honest. You're so familiar with the stereotypes of Native American life that you pretty much enter with preconceived notions.

Just curious what others thought?


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Those frequent readers of Erdrich who are not exactly enamored with this book, i'm just curious as to what you disliked about it? Were you not fully engaged with the story? Did her writing let you ..."

I am still reading but hope to finish this weekend.
A couple of initial reactions on why not as fully enamored with this book as the previous ones I have read:
- I am not a fan of coming-of-age stories, especially those with a young male narrator. That is just my personal preference and has nothing to do with the author and her writing style.
- also when I started reading I did not realize this is a "detective mystery" and this is the first time the author has done this.

BUT - with that said I think this is a very timely book on a subject which is has been getting headlines again - Rape and justice. In the recent months/weeks - there is the incident in India and those closer to home revealing how our culture/society treats rape victims and the injustices that exist especially if the woman belongs to a minority group.

Also in this book - I think she does a good job of showing the complex, convoluted, conflicting laws & rules in determining how to proceed with crimes against Native Americans.

I understand how using a young male narrator allows for the author to explore these issues at a basic level to expose the issues and the complexities.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Some of you have mentioned the secondary characters here and also those that appeared in The Plague of Doves. The characters, including Mooshum, Linda Wishkob, Sonja, Whitey, Clemence, and Father Travis, play indelible roles in the central story. Talk about their interactions with Joe and his friends and parents. What do their stories tell about the wider world of the reservation and about relations between white and Native Americans?


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Some of you have mentioned the secondary characters here and also those that appeared in The Plague of Doves. The characters, including Mooshum, Linda Wishkob, Sonja, Whitey, Clemence, and Father T..."

One of the things that I missed most in The Round House was the use of multi-narrators (which Erdrich employed well in previous books) so we are hearing things from Joe's pov of his rememberance of what happened when he was 13 yrs ago.

I got from reading The Round House is that living on the reservation was very much like the black communities before integration. Those living on the reservation represented a broad spectrum of views/opinions/ranges of aspirations but all bonded against the "main" barrier - discrimination and that justice was not applied equally to all and really was just meant "just us" and only for the white people. The Native American had to rely on "friendly" white people to help resolve issues that involved a Native American and white person. There were "characters" within their communities and they were accepted with their flaws. Lessons were often passed down from one generation to the other via storytelling.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Towards the novel's climax, Father Travis tells Joe, "in order to purify yourself, you have to understand yourself. Everything out in the world is also in you. Good, bad, evil, perfection, death, everything. So we study our souls." Would you say this is a good characterization of humanity? How is each of these things visible in Joe's personality?

He also tells Joe about the different types of evil—the material version, which we cannot control, and the moral one, which is harm deliberately caused by humans. How does this knowledge influence Joe?


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Some of you have mentioned the secondary characters here and also those that appeared in The Plague of Doves. The characters, including Mooshum, Linda Wishkob, Sonja, Whitey, Cleme..."

Beverly, yes, I didn't know what to expect from the reservation either. I got the impression there was a strong sense of family and a continuation of the history within this group. They appeared to be some what guarded or suspicious of outsiders for obvious reasons.


Rashida | 264 comments I finished this a few days ago. I enjoyed it. I don't regret having bought the book as opposed to my usual library loaning. And I was just recommending to my aunt that she read Erdrich, and I fully intend to bring her this book (along with PoD) next time I see her.

I think that some people felt a bit disconnected because of Joe's 13 year old boyness. I think that's a difficult narrator to pull off. I think Erdrich manages it, but it isn't as seamless an inhabitation as she's accomplished in the past. The other issue is that there are moments when she is plainly lecturing. I don't fault her the interruption in the story, I think the lectures are worth it. But isn't the smoothest way to go, stylistically.

But for all that, there are so many passages that just stop my heart with the raw emotion that she imbues her words with. That she can convincingly tell the stories of as many different people as Father Travis, Sonja, Joe and his friends, Linda Wishkob and even Lark- this is a real talent.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 627 comments Columbus wrote: "Rashida & Beverly, I'll be curious to know what you think of the book being that you both read Doves. I understand this is the 2nd book of a planned trilogy and wondering how this book works as a..."

I had no clue we were reading a book in a series again...last time I rushed to read the first book before getting to the copy we were reading (second book in series) but could do without reading the first one in the mystery series since their were different stories just same character with issues with his son's illness. I am just starting to read the book, only about 20 pages in.


message 29: by Adrienna (last edited Jan 22, 2013 03:34PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 627 comments In the beginning to me, it jumps around a lot and had to realize that a teen is telling this story who just turned 13; have to agree with other comment on our stereotypes of Native American of which I didn't know more about the culture until I took 1880s course in College on Native History...not from books in history classes in grade school. I heard some stories since I have part Native American blood but never lived on reservations like some but see what liquor does to my dad who is 1/4 Native, as they call it spirits. I was glad to see the father had a law degree and familiar with the laws and somewhat how they treat natives. I only read a little since the book is 481 pages on eBook version I am reading. I only got a few more days of a loan and will try to catch up better tomorrow since I also have another loan book to read on my PC.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
When Joe makes his fateful decision concerning his mother's attacker, he says it is about justice, not vengeance. What do you think? How does that decision change him? Why doesn't he share the information he has with the people who love him?

also, We hear a great deal about reparations and atonement for slavery. What about America's history with the Native American population—should these same issues be raised? Racism is often seen in terms of black and white. How does this view impact prejudices against others who aren't white, including people like the Ojibwe? Do you think there is prejudice against Native Americans? How is this portrayed in the book? Contrast these with examples of kindness and fairness.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "When Joe makes his fateful decision concerning his mother's attacker, he says it is about justice, not vengeance. What do you think? How does that decision change him? Why doesn't he share the info..."

I agree with your statement on seeing racism in terms of black and white and now we are adding the term brown to that discussion for the Hispanic population. But we are still not addressing the Native American population. Native Americans were barely mentioned during all of the Inauguration speeches.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "When Joe makes his fateful decision concerning his mother's attacker, he says it is about justice, not vengeance. What do you think? How does that decision change him? Why doesn't he share the info..."

As a coming-of-age story Joe has several eye-opening transitions that will mature him and start to shape him into the adult he will be. At the beginning of the book Joe, who in many ways life sheltered from the realities of the greater world, believed that justice was about right and wrong and did not know of the shades of grayness that exist within the definition of the laws that applied justice to the individuals. This was even more heart-breaking for him because of his father being a Tribal Judge. And like a lot young people his age does not understand why and the reactions of the adults in his life. Like Joe knew and was proud of being a Native American as part of his experiences during the timeframe in the book he learned what being a Native American meant in the context of the greater world. While those lessons was painful, it was also made aware (and want to learn more) about his Native American heritage.


Rashida | 264 comments I don't think anyone can seriously say that racism and this country's very troubling racial history is reflected in the past and present treatment of Native Americans. But, by virtue of the lower numbers and relative isolation of the population, it remains a very invisible fact. Family lore has it that my great-grandmother was full blood or close to it. But her life (and that of her children) was easier if she passed for Black- and there you have it. Wary of that crackling chapter in Pym where Johnson just absolutely lights up the black folk in Illinois desperately seeking to be anything but, I've always taken that story with a grain of salt. But the very idea of it speaks volumes to me about the realities of life for Native Americans.

I've been exposed to some of the culture, attended powwows, taken classes, lived in areas with large(r) populations of Native Americans, so Erdrich's (or Dorris' or Alexie's or Boyden's) have never felt like, "oooh, look at this new thing I'm discovering," but I'm glad that it can have that feeling for some people. One thing that is really true is that there is no such thing as one monolithic "Native American" culture. Every tribe is independent with their own cultureways.

To the book specifically, I think the end where we see all of the threads pull together into Joe's full passage into adulthood really shines a light on why I so love Erdrich. I was scared for that boy- not just in the moments of decision and action, but as we saw him winding up to it. Making increasingly unpleasant decisions, setting his tracks in a certain way. The violence done to his mother was done to his father and his self, as well. I think we really saw the way that attack shattered his world. He kept silent about so much because he was trying to contain the damage within himself- a very noble inclination, but one that also can mean that it has nowhere to go and so just increases inside oneself. This is something I saw Joe seeking vents for, in his dangerous bike riding, his smoking and drinking, his interactions with Sonja, etc. He felt like that final act would both put an end to the ongoing damage caused by the attack and also go back and heal up what had already occurred.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 627 comments So do I need to fast-forward on the eBook version to read the end, since I was bored after page 20 until 50 pages in. I may not have a copy anymore though. Glad to hear that on the last comment #33


message 35: by Myron (new)

Myron Brown | 81 comments Rashida makes a good point about Joe. Even though his friends were along with him most of the way, he never really let them in on the emotions he was going through as a result of the attack. It's hard for a 13 year old to communicate such emotions to oneself, let alone to other 13 year old boys who barely have a real understanding of rape and how it affects a woman and those who care about her.

Joe was forced to grow up quickly as a result of the attack and his father let him in on a lot of things he probably would not let him in on in normal circumstances but as was acknowledged only Joe loved his mother as much as his father did.

What is particularly interesting is how the characters acted upon what they knew and whether or not they knew more than they thought.


message 36: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy | 20 comments It seemed promising at first but then ran out of steam for me. I quit on p.134. Too clunky and just didn't flow for me.


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
I have a question(s) - our discussion centers around Joe, his environment, his coming-of-age, and how he reacts to his mother being raped, but we have been silent on the issue of the crime (rape), and in the book also it is the impetus for the story but is often silent.

Do you think this was intentional on Erdrich's part?
Do you think Joe would have had a different reaction to wanting to get revenge/justice if it was a crime other than rape?
Why do you think Erdrich chose the crime to be rape - a crime that Joe probably does not fully understand?
And in this book there is less of a female voice/presence than her other book - do you think the essence of the story will be different if there was more of a female voice?


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 627 comments Judy wrote: "It seemed promising at first but then ran out of steam for me. I quit on p.134. Too clunky and just didn't flow for me."

I think it was nice to give it a three star for a not-finished read.


message 39: by George (last edited Jan 29, 2013 07:36AM) (new)

George | 759 comments the story line is decent enough, I just don't find it compelling, like I can't put it down or sleep until I finish it. I pick it up and read it from time to time and am around page 200 at the moment. there are some scenes I like quite a bit though. but I expect to finish it eventually. I am curious to see how it all turns out.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
George wrote: "the story line is decent enough, I just don't find it compelling, like I can't put it down or sleep until I finish it. I pick it up and read it from time to time and am around page 200 at the momen..."

George, have you read other books by Erdrich? If so, how does this one compare?


message 41: by George (new)

George | 759 comments No,I'm sorry to say I haven't. I was completely unfamiliar with her.


message 42: by Susan (last edited Jan 31, 2013 01:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan For me, this was a five star book because it brought to life a world I know very little about. The book grappled with a devastating event that could affect all of us and it showed how one family coped. Telling the story from Joe's POV was genius because he has a harder time coming to understand an event he has thought very little about. He is growing up and then is forced to face a part of adulthood head on. How he reacts to it, what life experiences he chooses to use as a coping mechanism are both adult and boyish. He learns to see not only his mother and father in a different way, but also himself. He is forced to become self reliant and yet he is not ready to leave the comfort of his boyhood group. I thought the side stories of Father Travis and Linda Wishkob were brilliant portraits of characters who had and would continue to have a great effect on Joe's maturing. Each character was a brilliant crystal thrown into the life at the reservation through which the reader got to see life there a little more clearly. Joe's ability to use Native American myth to help him deal with what has happened to his family was very well done and interesting for me as a reader. This book has everything: deep bonds of boyhood friendship, a young son's adoration of his mother and resentment at her being taken away, a child's feeling responsible for his parents' outcome, unscrupulous family members who take Joe's "find," resolving the tension between justice and revenge, showing the unequal system of justice in this country - depending on the color of your skin- showing the comforts derived from familiar friends, foods, and family, a refuge we have all sought comfort in in our own times of trouble. In the end, does Joe deal with the tragedy any differently because he is a Native-American? I think he does, and that makes the novel special. I was horrified by his mother's fear and trauma and how she chose to deal with her rape and the reasons for it. I was worried about Joe's dad and how such a gentle man would handle the situation and survive what happens to him. Would justice be served? Would we understand what justice in this situation means, anyway? Would Joe? Does justice mean the same thing for him as it does for his mom, dad, the perpetrator? What does it mean to be a victim? Can we get beyond victimhood? Brilliant questions that are both particular to Joe and who he is and applicable to us all in a universal way. A brilliant book.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3772 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "For me, this was a five star book because it brought to life a world I know very little about. The book grappled with a devastating event that could affect all of us and it showed how one family c..."

Susan, I agree. And the fact that the prose is so smart, literary but very accessible to many. I sense from many of the comments from her fans that this form (literary mystery?) amounts to a dumbing-down of her literary gifts. That maybe if this was a treatise about a rape without a suspect or a mystery involved that it would've been more high brow Erdrich writing or more of what one would expect. Those of you out there who are familiar with her writing what do you think?


message 44: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments I am still planning to read this one, especially since I have enjoyed Erdrich's books in the past. Thanks to all who participated in the discussion!


Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Susan wrote: "For me, this was a five star book because it brought to life a world I know very little about. The book grappled with a devastating event that could affect all of us and it showed ho..."

I am a fan of Erdrich's work and will continue to support, read and recommend her work. But for me this was not one of fav reads. It is not because I did not think it was high brow enough or that it was a literary mystery (a genre I do enjoy).

I believe as one of my friends says - Every book is not for everybody, but every book is for somebody.

And for me, the young male narrator coming-of-age story was not for me in this book.
I agree that the prose is smart and literary and is very accessible (probably more accessible than some of her other books). I think Erdrich winning the National Book Award is timely as we listen to politicans speak to the rights of Blacks and Hispanics but very little of Native Americans.

I hope all those who read Erdrich for the first time and enjoyed will pick up some of her other books.


message 46: by Jean (last edited Feb 03, 2013 07:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jean | 140 comments I love Louise Erdrich but when I first began reading this one I kept saying to myself, "This is not Erdrich" But as I kept reading and enjoying the book I came to the conclusion that it's not typical Erdrich but it was a good read and I stopped comparing this book to her other works and enjoyed it for what it was, a good story. Still love Erdrich.


Jackie (jaclynfre) | 49 comments Rashida wrote: "For those who are interested, here is our discussion of The Plague of Doves.


That book so blew me away, that when I opened up Round House and realized it was revisiting characters, I immediately ..."


I loved Plague of Doves and find that The Round House isn't quite as lush. I'm surprised I'm able to stick with a book that kicks off with a violent rape because I never forgave The Lovely Bones for the same structure.

As far as American Indian writers, Barbara Kingsolver?


message 48: by Jackie (last edited Feb 06, 2013 05:21AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jackie (jaclynfre) | 49 comments Columbus wrote: "Those frequent readers of Erdrich who are not exactly enamored with this book, i'm just curious as to what you disliked about it? Were you not fully engaged with the story? Did her writing let you ..."

I did appreciate Joe's narration, simply because I had the semi-protection of a 13 year-old boy's perspective from actually having to experience the rape in first person (in the novel).

It felt a little "To Kill a Mockingbird"-ish, but not as affecting.

However, what is lacking in The Round House is Erdich's beautiful poetry of description. Her keen eye for detail is somehow lost in translation as she tries to have it both ways by telling the story from the grown-up Joe's perspective while at the same time remaining somewhat limited first person in Joe's narration. What do others think?


Jackie (jaclynfre) | 49 comments What do you think of the decision to have Cappy die unexpectedly at the end? Was his role in the crime less justifiable than Joe's? I also thought it was interesting that he also experiences unrequited love, which ends up killing him as well when he makes a rash decision.


Alexis (kheleyr) This was my first time reading Erdrich, and I thought this book was fantastic! It was packed with things to ponder on: Federal Indian Law and Policy (shame on you early US judiciary! the rotting casserole is an apt illustration); the nature of justice; the desire to consume others when the self is empty; the human drive to survive, etc. I particularly appreciated the scene's centering around Joe's perspective on his father's role as a Tribal Judge and the tribal legal system. I really liked Joe's voice and Erdrich's approach to Joe's decision to kill Lark. Also, as a Next Generation fan, I have to say the Star Trek references didn't hurt.


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