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Louise Erdrich is one of the most gifted, prolific, and challenging of contemporary Native American novelists. Her fiction reflects aspects of her mixed heritage: German through her father, and French and Ojibwa through her mother. She worked at various jobs, such as hoeing sugar beets, farm work, waitressing, short order cooking, lifeguarding, and construction work, before becoming a writer.
After she was named writer-in-residence at Dartmouth, she married professor Michael Dorris and raised several children, some of them adopted. She and Michael became a picture-book husband-and-wife writing team, though they wrote only one truly collaborative novel, The Crown of Columbus The Antelope Wife was published innot long after her separation from Michael and his subsequent suicide.
Some reviewers believed they saw in The Antelope Wife the anguish Erdrich must have felt as her marriage crumbled, but she has stated that she is unconscious of having mirrored any real-life events. She also has written two collections of poetry, Jacklight, and Baptism of Desire. Her fiction has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle and The Los Angeles Timesand has been translated into fourteen languages. Several of her short stories have been selected for O. Henry awards and for inclusion Shadow tag louise erdrich the annual Best American Short Story anthologies. The Blue Jay's Dance, a memoir of motherhood, was her first nonfiction work, and her children's book, Grandmother's Pigeon, has been published by Hyperion Press.
She lives in Minnesota with her children, who help her run a small independent bookstore called The Birchbark. Goodre helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :.
Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book. Preview — Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich. Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich. Get A Copy. Hardcovers. Published February 2nd by Harper first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please up. To ask other readers questions about Shadow Tagplease up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Shadow tag louise erdrich details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Shadow Tag. Shelves: fiction. It is an insightful, beautifully written portrait in which the character of the marriage, Dorian-Gray-like, is revealed to be somewhat wanting. Gil and Irene are the unhappy couple. Gil has made a successful career painting his wife. We see in what we are told about his paintings the changes in their marriage. Irene America had been the subject of his paintings in all of her incarnations—thin and virginal, a girl, then womanly, pregnant, naked, demurely posed or frankly pornographic…but now he was losing confidence and control.
His paintings were hiding from him because Irene was hiding from him. He could see it in the opacity of her eyes, the insolence of her flesh, the impatient weariness of her body when she let down her guard.
We see in the images he paints the changes in how she feels. He may deny what he is seeing, but the paint does not lie.
Irene sees her artistic relationship with Gil as her being food for him to consume. Louise Erdrich - image from Britannica Irene is an art historian and is researching a work on George Catlin, so there is plenty of interplay between her topical musings and the reality of herself as a literal work of art. She talks about how Catlin had added an element in his paintings, new to most, the shadow. It was as if a sudden twin had been created right before the subject. A twin that seemed to live and breathe and follow one with its eyes and yet was motionless.
The paintings were objects of veneration and of fear. Some swore uneasily that those who allowed their portraits to be painted, eyes open, would not lie peacefully after death, as some aspect of their being would live on, staring out at the world. Others, disturbed that Catlin painted buffalo and took them away with them in his portfolio, tied his actions to the increasing scarcity of the herds upon which their lives depended.
So it was, the images stole their subjects and, for the rest of the world, became more real, until it seemed they were the only things left. Erdrich always brings to her tales her experience as a Native American, offering those of us who are not of that group a look into Native culture and issues. Still, a bad marriage is a bad marriage, and Erdrich offers rich detail describing what a failed union looks like, the games each partner plays, the lies each partner tells, the roles of Shadow tag louise erdrich children in the usually silent battle, and how their familiarity binds them.
This was not fighting, but the sort of argument that could go on for years and years, where each found bits of evidence to prove their point and dropped it into the next go-round a month, two or three months, on. They were back in old territory. They argued sometimes for comfort. If GR readers are typical of the population at large, it is likely that about half of us have known the joys of a marital demise. I know I have. For years, he thought, he had been mourning a death without knowing exactly who had died or how it had come about.
One she keeps for herself, the other she uses as a weapon against Gil. She knows he sneaks looks at it, and she plants lies there to torment him. They have three children, which adds battleground material between the pair. Erdrich fills her novels with imagery and power. One in particular was a visualization of a wall between the two that contained its own DMZ. But there was only an amber leaf, a frayed heart suspended at the edge of a vertical white crack that went down so far it disappeared.
Despite the disappointment, the anger, the cruelty, the dishonesty, these people are very, very bonded. Can they survive without each other? Erdrich is part owner of BirchBark Books in Minneapolis. It is not quite her personal web site, but is, I guess, close enough.
View all 38 comments. May 09, Karina rated it liked it. Gil felt the tide going out slowly, just a little every day until now he stood alone far up the dry beach. Huge and merciless! Besides, when did I ever go to a conference? Or meet anyone Shadow tag louise erdrich If he's jealous enough to fall for that, Gil deserves to suffer.
She went on writing, filling up weeks of s. It was a short novel filled with miserable people. When I felt like I should quit I would think about it more and wondered about the couple. Gil, an artist, and Irene, a writer and her husband's muse have come to a point in their marriage where they deceive one another and wait to mentally abuse each other with words and games.
Irene has discovered Gil doesn't trust her and has read her diary. She makes a fake and leaves it in a drawer. He says things that he read but never admits to reading it. It's told in Irene and Gil's perspective and the children all have a few chapters of looking into the marriage and how it affects them.
I liked the Native American segments in the book. The author is of Native descent and it shows with her knowledge incorporated in the storyline. She writes really well and I would def read another. The ending was the extra. It was emotionally draining negative and somber and you hope couple's never act like these two but I believe "misery loves company. View all 7 comments. Feb 12, Deborah Edwards rated it liked Shadow tag louise erdrich. Irene is a a woman, but she is also a symbol — for a country, a culture, a part of history.
And when that character is also Native American, her symbolic impact becomes even more nuanced. Irene America regularly writes her thoughts and life story in a hidden red diary. Upon discovering that her husband has found her diary and begun reading it in secret, rather than confront him, she decides to continue writing in her diary, but writing lies and half-truths and quizzical thoughts that will make her husband question their marital history and their life together.
Additionally, she obtains a secret safety deposit box, and begins writing a blue diary to be kept and updated there, filled with her actual story, the truth of the matter as she believes it to be. Her husband, a possessive and occasionally abusive man, a brilliant artist, but desperate and insecure, becomes haunted and enraged by the deceptive passages he re in the red diary, and Irene uses the betrayal as a sort of belated revenge against the man who has exploited her for all these years.
The theme of revisionist history is woven into the story in several different ways. Irene is completing a doctoral thesis on George Catlin, an artist whose early paintings of Native Americans became controversial symbols of exploitation to some, valuable depictions of early life to others, and were a source of both fear and wonder for the subjects of those paintings.
Irene tells stories about Catlin to her husband, and often those stories are filled with half-truths, imagining occurrences that never actually happened. We are left to decide if our feelings about the actual man have changed given the information we now have at our disposal, some of it true, some of it created. Catlin comes to stand for the history of America as a country and the Shadow tag louise erdrich much of what we learn in history classes is myth, a history written by the victors, legends passed down through centuries that may have little or no basis in fact but become true by numerous retellings.
Similarly, like visitors to a gallery, we are given small glimpses into the lives of our main characters, scenes that show both their weaknesses and strengths, their moments of light and dark, and then we must ask ourselves if the information at hand gives us a complete enough portrait to make an assessment about their true selves. The fine line or at times, vast chasm between truth and mythology, art and reality, depiction and exploitation, image and distortion, are all images Erdrich plays with throughout the novel, often with startling and disturbing.
The material is ambitious, but Erdrich handles it deftly with sharp prose and surprising imagery. And though she tried to pull away, it was impossible to tug that skein of darkness from under his heel. Gil obsesses over this portrait of a woman who has been represented in art and literature throughout the ages. We know this obsession foreshadows something unfortunate for Irene and Gil, as well, but in essence, we are being asked ahead of time to judge the depiction and decide if the story has been told accurately or if it is a fabrication that has achieved nearly mythological status.
Likewise, in descriptions of Bonnard's paintings, we are given small scenes from a life and asked if we can judge the truth from those few small moments in time. This theme resonates in the larger story as we are given a series of incidents, a spate of domestic moments, a handful of facts, and then are asked to discern, by virtue of just these details, if we can ever truly know the motives of the people involved in these scenes.
Erdrich seems to want us to arrive at the conclusion that we all have shades of light and dark within us, we all carry the full spectrum of colors, and most of us have reflected all of them at one time or another. No single glimpse, no moment in time, ever tells the whole story. Every soul is open to interpretation. I would have loved to have given this book four, or even five, stars. For starters, it is simply too short. Usually, I am apt to complain if a book is unnecessarily too long, but this book needed at least another two hundred s to fulfill its early promise.Shadow tag louise erdrich
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‘Shadow Tag’ by Louise Erdrich