Monday, 19 June 2017
Tracks - Louise Erdrich
Chippewa Fleur Pillager is central to this tale of loss but it is not only about her. It tells of a lifestyle lost because of the influence of government and religion, lost family structures and loyalties and a big shock for me, allotted land lost on the reservation. As I knew next to nothing about Native American Indians, this short book of survival and endurance was a read that made me feel so sad for what the Europeans did when they arrived in a new land. The book is set in the early 20th century, not when the settlers first came across the natives but a good while later, although the influence is still there (the church, the trade offs, the taxes charged for land already owned......) The story is told in two totally different voices, Old man Nanapush and the sanctimonious but damaged Pauline.
Descriptions are wonderful, they have you seeing exactly what the author wants you to; and the feelings of the last few "true families" in an area damned already by tree felling (an early scorched earth policy) have the usual hatred, deceit, love, memory are perfectly described.
I will say that this took me a few chapters to "get the rhythm", but once I did it was a fascinating read. The author of The Master Butcher's Singing Club amongst many others, Erdrich is part-Chippewa herself. Here she brings those people of her past to life.