Monday, May 12, 2008
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.