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Birchbark Blog


Louise Erdrich - Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Dear Friends and Book Lovers of the World and the Twin Cities in particular,

Thank you for your visits all through the summer.  I didn't visit this blog because this is Minnesota.  Who can bear to sit inside and write when this brief, golden, breathlessly hot, high pressure perfect, time is upon us?  Niibin.  The word for summer in Ojibwe.  No blogging in Niibin.  But now it is the first of September and things get serious.  The school bell rings across from Birchbark Books and there is the periodic hysterical joy of recess sounds.  There is a new garden placed beside the lunch room, right across from us.  There are books to be read.

Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge by Vic Glover gave me heart one day, and indelible images.  A book filled with everyday wisdom, gentle survival humor, and practical advice for those who wonder what it is like to be in Indian.  

Let's Take the Long Way Home, a memoir of friendship by Gail Caldwell, is (disclosure) by my friend Gail Caldwell.   For anyone who has ever lost another precious human, and that includes all of us, this is a map of grief and joy you'll hold to your heart.  For anyone who has struggled with addiction or likes dogs, and that includes many of us, this is a map of terror and hope .

I've resisted reading Roberto Bolano's 2666 and now I cannot stop.  It is like entering a strange and compelling dream.

I have just picked up Empire of the Summer Moon, Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, by S.C. Gwynne.  It is a promising read.

I also have the advanced readers copy of Philip Roth's Nemesis, which I think is one of his best books.  The ending says all there is to say about the arc and beauty of our mortality.

For me the end of August and its long light is a time of relentless nostalgia  -- Faulker knew about this light.  I am watching the sun creep behind the still green leaves, lighting them fiercely from behind so they glow.  Unearthly.  Gorgeous.  Mundane.

Deborah Hirsch Bezanis commented on 02-Sep-2010 01:35 PM
I'm preparing to visit Mpls and its Guthrie Theatre for Master better time of year to be there again. Thank you for your lovely interview with Moyers, and for sustaining my favorite bookshop in the universe.
ann commented on 03-Sep-2010 10:01 AM
Happy to read that even you justify your August activities but was not neccesary as we also enjoyed niibin. Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. Here in North Dakota, Labor Day means the end of summer. I plan on making sure I squeeze every last drop out of the season by doing absolutely nothing. I’d like to think we can all take time to smell flowers, enjoy all those zuicinni and tomatoes, and revel in being happily unproductive.
Barbara Scott Zeller commented on 11-Sep-2010 03:24 PM
I just read Let's Take the Long Way Home. Unlike my usual book-buying behavior, I picked it up without looking inside, or reading the book blurbs. I picked it up because on the cover it had "a memoir of friendship" and I had just returned from Colorado where I had been visiting my best friend of 53 years. I found that this book was about so much more. It made me think, and it made me sad, and it made me smile, and it made me treasure my friendship with my best friend so much more. And it made me hug my dogs -- even more than usual :)
This reader highly recommends this book.

Off to see The Master Butchers Singing Club tonight! How lucky are we in Minneapolis to have Louise Erdrich and the Guthrie Theater local.
Barbara Scott Zeller (again) commented on 12-Sep-2010 06:47 AM
The Master Butchers Singing Club at the Guthrie. It is wonderfully told on stage in this production. The actors have their hearts in this story (we were in the front row - could see this on their faces and in their eyes). And the narrator - Step and Half - OMG. To all Louise Erdrich fans, readers, and theater-goers, you must see this play.
Annie commented on 23-Sep-2010 04:40 PM
I think it's funny that you said no blogging in the summer. My partner is a native american storyteller, drum keeper and professor of Native American studies at Southern Oregon University and he's not supposed to tell stories in the summer because it is a time of preparation. He recently went to Minnesota and Wisconsin to help establish a Native American academic camp over there. I love your books, I have read about four so far. I am English education major in my last year of college before I get my masters degree. If you are ever in Oregon you should stop by our small liberal arts college!
Carol commented on 23-Sep-2010 10:15 PM
I absolutely loved Fail Caldwell's Let's Take the Long Way Home. I have now ordered Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story. Thank you, dear Louise for posting this recommendation. I've also started 2666 and am impressed with its prose and storyline. My students in American Literature will be discussing Love Medicine next week. I can't wait!
Barbara K. Carlier commented on 30-Oct-2010 02:56 PM
I visited your bookstore last spring for the book club and the discussion of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and was very happy to talk with you then. I don't often get to Minneapolis as I live in France. This week I watched on television , La Grand Librairie (The Big Bookstore), a weekly literary program on books with their respective authors. This week the program was done in New York City with several American authors and you, Louise Erdrich, were one of the authors interviewed by François Busnel for your book The Plague of Doves which has just come out in French. A lovely interview although it was difficult to hear you because, as usual, the French dubbing was done over your voice. It was amazing, however, to see that you were the only women writer to be included in the program! Bravo!
annie b siemer commented on 26-Dec-2010 10:06 PM
Thank You Loiuse for all that you have contributed to this Earth at this time. Today I was needing something new to read. Not unlike you and Ober, I too am a lover of books. I had purchased (and read) Books and Islands back in Santa cruz in 2006. I don't recall any of it but am thrilled to have picked it up again. I do remember all of your other books though.Thank You for all of it . I love learning about a (new to me) character, Ober. I love being able to walk into your store via the internet for the first time yesterday. It makes me want to come sit in that comfy chair and read and read and heal. Hopefully someday I'll get to see the store in person. Annie B. Siemer
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