Saturday, April 3, 2010

Shadow Tag, Louise Erdrich

I have read two of Erdrich's earlier novels. I never found myself interested in anything she wrote. The subject matter, the characters, the theme, etc. I found the novels always grasping for meaning in a way they could never actually be. I place Erdrich's work in the same category I place Barbara Kingsolver. Too much wanting to be something great. Never able.

In Erdrich's latest novel, I thought I would finally discover some of the reasons her novel's are always praised. A dark plot (wife creates a false diary for her husband to read in hopes he'll leave her), tragic events (Erdrich's real life marriage involved physical and sexual abuse against her children, and the husband killed himself before their divorce was finalized), and a new path for the author. Instead, a novel with no desire to be anything beyond hateful and unapologetic.

As you read about the husband being pushed further and further to insanity, he becomes more violent towards the children. The wife just attempts to protect her children. At this point, she is just as much to blame for the abuse. She has caused her husband so much pent up rage for no reason. By the novel's end, Erdrich still refuses to explain the behavior of these two characters. She attempts to blame alcohol. And, maybe, in typical Erdrich fashion, she is trying to show the results of Native American depression.

As usual, a huge disappointment. A novel without any focus. A writer without any control of the craft.


No comments:

Post a Comment