Monday, May 12, 2008

A Find


Lazy, lazy, lazy. That's how I'm feeling right now. I worked all weekend so I'm taking it easy right now, still in my pajamas. Except I need to get some housekeeping done. Sigh.

I read a really fantastic book last week, The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich. This was a book club pick and though I've heard a lot about the author who lives here in town, I didn't know what to expect. This book was so good in fact, once I started this, I completely gave up on a book I was over 100 pages into that I wasn't really getting on with. The contrast between how well this was written and the other book was huge.

Fidelis Waldvogel returns to his small German village after serving in WWI. He marries and soon afterwards decides to try him luck in America. Alone, except for a suitcase full of sausage, Fidelis makes his way West, planning to go to Seattle, but winding up in Argus, North Dakota since that was as far as his money would take him. Fidelis sets up a business and brings his family over. Delphine Watzka, who grew up in Argus, is living on the road and performing in an act. She returns to Argus and her alcoholic father, and takes a job in Fidelis's shop forming a strong bond with Eva, Fidelis's wife. There the story takes off, all the way to post WWII, on the way there is life and death, love and animosity, murder and a bit of a mystery all woven together to tell this brilliant tale.

It's hard to put my finger on why I liked this book so very much. It's beautifully written but it's much more than that. The characters are so well drawn and complicated - they weren't just good or bad, but had many facets to their personalities. I felt as though I knew them and couldn't wait to get back to them. There are lots of bizarre situations but somehow Erdrich made them seem so possible, so real. It was just a really, really good read and one of the highlights this year. I hope my book club will have a good discussion about this one.

Erdrich is a member of the Ojibwe Indian tribe and apparently many of her books focus on these people and these small towns like Argus. She has written quite a few books and I'm trying to figure out what else would suit me. I have my eye on The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. I'm curious if you've read anything by her and if you have any recommendations.

15 comments:

Gentle Reader said...

Ooh, I really enjoyed The Master Butcher's Singing Club! But I liked The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse better. It's my favorite Erdrich--but I read most of her early work a long, long time ago. Maybe it's time to re-read some of them!

LisaMM said...

I haven't heard of this book. It sounds really interesting!

Kay said...

This sounds really good. Please report on what happened in your book group. I am making a list for next year for my afternoon group. Haven't read any of her books yet.

Les said...

I've only read one book by Erdrich (Love Medicine) and I didn't care for it. This one, however, sounds like it might be a winner.

Tara said...

Gentle Reader, Really - you liked that better? Wow, I'm definitely going to read that one then. Thanks for your comment.

LisaMM, she's pretty popular around here - even owns a small bookstore in town.

Kay, I will! Isn't it fun (and tricky!) to make up that list?

Les, that is good to know. That one doesn't sound as interesting to me as some of her others.

heather (errantdreams) said...

Sounds like a wonderful read! I love authors with that kind of skill at character creation.

Btw, I kinda tagged you for the meme of fives, if you feel like it. :)

Carrie K said...

I'd meant to pick up this book, I don't think I've ever read one of her books.

Karen said...

What a great title!

Tara said...

Heather, I'll check it out!

Carrie K, I'm really glad I tried her. I don't think I'm interesting in all her books but will try some others.

Karen, Isn't it?

Lisa said...

I haven't read anything by this author, but I've been hearing a lot about a new book, The Plague of Doves.

Danielle said...

I've got several of her books, inclduding this one, but I've not yet read her. I'm so glad you liked this--I really should dig it out and read it! I love it when a book turns out to be surprisingly good!

GretchenA said...

Another positive vote here for Master Butcher's Singing Club. I LOVED it. Thought the characterizations were spot on, and the descriptions gave a great sense of place. The scene outside in the garden (not giving away plot, but I think you know which one I mean) was the first think I thought of when I saw your post, even though I read the book 3 years ago. Wonderful!

Tara said...

Lisa, yes, I've seen that one. It's everywhere here!

Danielle, I love it too. It feels like a gift somehow, to be so pleasantly surprised.

Gretchena, Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the bookclub thinks.

Wendy said...

I just recently discovered your blog and added it to my Google Reader :) This looks like a fabulous book - I have not yet read anything by Erdich and this looks like a book I would really enjoy. Thanks for the review!

Tara said...

Hi Wendy! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. I really, really liked this book, as did most of my book club. I'm looking forward to reading more by Erdrich.