Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tracks - Louise Erdrich

Here's the thing about Tracks: it's expertly written and is one of the more complex and interesting pieces of Native American literature to ever be published. People are absolutely correct when they compare Erdrich to Faulkner. That said, I didn't actually enjoy this book nearly as much as I wanted to. Quality doesn't necessarily make a book fun to read. I actually began to loathe most of the characters in the book by its final chapters, and couldn't wait to be done with it so I never have to read it again.

While the subject matter is absolutely important in providing a counter-discourse to accepted notions of how it was that white Americans came to inhabit so much of this country and its original inhabitants came to inhabit so little, the story itself deals too much and too openly with sex and not openly enough with the actual important matters, such as the wholesale theft of Native American land. The narrative is framed as a conversation with a woman who, as a young girl was sent to a government school off the reservation, thus fracturing her relationship with her mother. I accept that as a premise, but the narrators consistently subject the narratee to every intimate detail of the places, times, and ways her parents had sex. This seems an odd thing to tell a woman whom you are attempting to reunite with her estranged mother. The narrative's content and intent are completely different matters. I was constantly bothered by the narrative's many tangents, and as a result I ended up not enjoying the book as much as I could have.

I am throwing Erdrich 3 stars because I recognize the quality of this book. I am reserving stars I could have given because I genuinely disliked reading this book.

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