My long-time book club has decided that November is Louise Erdrich month. Given how many novels she's written, that'll keep us going for several years, as opposed to when November used to be Bronte month; I mean, those Brontes were great authors, but all died far too young and didn't produce that many books. Last year we read Love Medicine, and this year we're reading two books: Tracks and Four Souls, which together form a loose trilogy.
I just finished Tracks, a book I read many years ago. It's the story of the intense, strange, mystifying Fleur Pillager and tribal elder Nanapush. Set in the late WWI years, it's also the story of how Native Americans lost their crumbling foothold on pieces of land, bit by agonizing bit.
Erdrich is an amazing writer, there's no question, even going way back in her body of work. There's magical realism here, and more than a little bit of eroticism. There are fascinating, flawed characters, and a strong story line that builds up to a menacing future.
But on this re-read, I also found the first half to be overly slow. The story is told mostly from the points of view of Nanapush and Pauline Puyat, a young Native woman who slowly becomes obsessed with religious self-flagellation. Fleur is seen through their eyes. I see what Erdrich was doing: Pauline and Nanapush have very different viewpoints on Fleur and her actions. But honestly, even though Pauline's story is strange and downright frightening, she felt more like a distraction to me; I was far more interested in Nanapush and Fleur.
There were parts of this book that I'd give 4 stars, but other parts I'd give 2, so when I rated it on Goodreads, I gave it a 3. That said, I'm still anxious to approach Four Souls, which stars Fleur again, and I think it's one of the few Erdrich books I haven't read.