Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog

One Amazing Thing in Normal, Illinois

Louise Erdrich - Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Dear Friends,

Last week I was invited to Normal/Bloomington Illinois.  I would speak to students, and read poetry, and looked forward to meeting those who had arranged this visit.  Lynda especially had been patient and encouraging.  Somewhere along the line I realized that David Foster Wallace had taught here, which made me think of his life and work and his graduation speech.  

I looked forward to the book in my bag, One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and to seeing again the person who would drive me.  Bill Young.  I had just finished reading Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safron Foer, and had decided that my rare and even very careful (you know, organic ranch raised creatures imagined so happy to be eaten they run eagerly to the slaughterhouse) type of meat eating was now at an end.  Bill and I talked of this.  On the way to the place I was staying, The Chateau, a unit of motorcycle state police passed us in proud formation.  We seemed to have a police escort!  But as it turned out, there was a convention of state troopers at The Chateau.  The readings of poetry, for a radio show all poetry, and the readings in general, went very well and I couldn't have been more hospitably treated.  I loved walking into the Chateau, past the old tapestry, over the tired new carpet.  Bill and I decided to have a post-reading glass of wine in The Lido bar.  It was filled with rowdy and roaring state troopers, but who do you call when they are the ones disturbing the peace?  

Bill and I went out for a burger -- well, a veggie burger, which can be had at Burger King.  Ours must have been sitting deep in the freezer, said Bill.  For a long time.  But he ate it and we had a glass of wine -- from the Chateau cellar.  The goblet was huge, but of course one would expect that at a Chateau.  I wanted to see the wine cellar, but as the library was mainly American Jurisprudence and Janet Evanovich, and some diet books, Bill said that the wine cellar might not be what I expected.  So up I went to One Amazing Thing, which I intended to fall asleep reading.  Early on I realized that Chitra was throwing a plot at me!  An irresistible plot where a mini-UN of interesting people get trapped by a disaster and each must come up with a story.  Oh no!  Oh yes!  I was up very late.  I read straight through because this is the sort of book that pulls you along.  Divakaruni is so adept with her characterizations.  She has a light touch with people.  She is a careful, evocative writer.   I wanted to be any of the several beauty salons described so lovingly.  I wanted to eat the bits of food described with such delicacy.  Chitra Divakaruni has written 14 books and they just keep getting better.  I think I enjoyed this one the most, lying there in my French (?) four poster bed, French (?) scenes of rural life on the wall, wishing for another French (?) veggie burger, or another goblet from the Chateau cellar.  Outside the rain fell and fell.  The next morning driving back to O'Hare we were passed by a state police car hauling a trailer with motorcycles strapped onto it.  Were the troopers still reeling in the Chateau?  Was the rain too dangerous?  Had they forgotten their rain gear?  We will never know.  But I am still a vegetarian.  

And today, back in Minneapolis, I still admire this line from One Amazing Thing, "She ignored Uma superbly, as people do when faced with those those abject destinies they control."  Haven't we all been ignored superbly?  How I hate it when my abject destiny is controlled by others.    

chitra divakaruni commented on 13-Nov-2009 07:31 AM
Thank you Louise, whose own wonderful Love Medicine helped me become a writer. I am so honored that you enjoyed One Amazing Thing.
Paula Sullivan commented on 13-Nov-2009 12:53 PM
My partner of 44 years and I have just discovered Louise's novels, poems, etc. Even though I taught creative writing and composition for decades at a community college and assigned anthology readings by Erdrich, I am released from grading endless essays and short stories to fill up my cup again. Where to begin--in no particular order of publication dates, we started with audio books for the drive home from Minneapolis to Tulsa in August, Four Souls (Tracks is for the next road trip) We were hooked, Master Butcher's Singing Club, The Last Report of . . . Little No Horse, Painted Drum,Doves. What a pleasure to read such moving stories, so eloquently put down as if transmitted from other worlds. My kind of reading! Thank you, Louise Erdrich, for inspiring me to take up writing again. Perhaps one day, on our visits to Minneapolis where our daughter and her family live just a blocks from Birchbark, we can thank you in person. Many of our friends are now reading your novels, too.
Post a Comment!

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


Patrick O'Brian The Porcupine Year birchbark house series Zombies favorite dog S.C. Gwynne The Ojibwe Ojibwemowin Love William Trevor Remarkable Trees japan friends customers Canada Up Late Again Greenland Alan Weisman gratitude Population book and dinner club knowledge sweden france Tar Sands plants devoted customers buffalo north dakota Kabul The Round House The Royal Prussian Library NACDI:All My Relations ireland Let's Take the Long Way Home Master Butchers Singing Club incarnation Czech Writer monkey in a dryer Nemesis Chitra Divakaruni Anishinabemowin trees boarding school 2666 how good looking you are twins favorite book Keepers of the Trees School Gardens This Green World gardens Victory Gardens H2Oil Wendy Makoons Geniusz Jim Harrison Ice spring Women and Trees Empire of the Summer Moon anniversary Nero Wolf Hall Brown Dog aquifer The Transition Handbook thanks Aza Bill Moyers Journal Botany china Peak Water Hillary Clinton Education Rare Books The Birchbark House Minneapolis italy The Farmer's Daughter support health care reform Stephen Salisbury Emily Johnson Beth Dooley Interview euphoria Milkweed Press Keystone XL local economy coyote Too Much Happiness The Wealth of Nature green favorite tree peculiar touches of green and gold The Blue Sky E.L. Doctorow Green Team Bleak House Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge Alice Munro Hilary Mantel The Game of Silence graphix germany Afghanistan Poetry neighborhood city of books Bohumil Hrabal Climate Change show your love Native Arts Dogs Aubrey/Maturin Mankato Powwow Small Bookstores as Commons Unnatural Disasters Magers and Quinn Book Review President Obama Native People Kate DiCamillo Dartmouth bill mckibben Collective Denial Gryphon Press Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive Catalyst Video The Resilient Gardener Ha Jin Too Loud A Solitude the most romantic city in the world Minnesota photography joy Anton Treuer Pembina Anishinabe Gail Caldwell mississippi Roberto Bolano Ojibwe Gary Clement World on the Edge cafe Mohamed's Ghosts post holiday reads ependent thank you friends leaves and snow post holiday Philip Roth pilgrims Guthrie Theater ptsd tree books adventure solstice, Thomas King Michael Jackson National Book Award More Remarkable Trees Islam Birchbark Books State Troopers Makoons cafe closing Vic Glover language revitalization Fireworks Peak Oil Tree Houses Kenwood Gardens Chickadee Wastepaper British Navy fresh water Easter Island Crushing Books Light in August Louise