Friday, August 08, 2008

More Erdrich

Tracks by Louise Erdrich

In this novel, Erdrich returns to the reservation and many of the characters from her first novel. She actually bridges the two previous novels, and has many of the citizens of Argus show up in the early part of Tracks. The novel takes place between 1911 and 1924, thus serving as a kind of sequel to the occurences in Love Medicine. I liked this one a lot more than The Beet Queen. Tracks tells the story and development of two characters in particular that were simply minor, though influential/mysterious characters in the previous novels: Fleur Pillager, who is later a type of medicine woman, and Pauline Puyat, who bears a different name in the other novels and is rather sinister. Pauline starts off nice enough but soon goes a little off the deep end, perhaps because she was always a little weird and couldn't fit in. It was interesting seeing the relationships develop between all these people, and the way it explained certain situations that occured in Love Medicine. For example, finding out that certain people were related shed light on their interactions decades later. In another example, it was kind of disturbing to discover that two people were actually related, making their relationship in Love Medicine somewhat incestuous.

The parts narrated by Nanapush were the best since Pauline is, well, insane. In addition to dealing with all types of personal relationships, the novel also explores some of the issues of reservation life in the beginning of the century, as the people are ravished by disease, hunger and must struggle to hold on to their lands.

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