Monday, July 27, 2009

Book Review, The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich

The Painted Drum: A Novel (P.S.) The Painted Drum: A Novel by Louise Erdrich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich 10/10 (5/5)

I know I say this about many of the books I read, but I REALLY liked this book. I liked it so much that I intend to reread it sometime soon, after it has a chance to settle somewhat. Like many of Erdrich's books, this one is about Native Americans, and the voice feels authentic and human. It is divided in four parts. In the first, we meet a mother daughter team who deals with people's estates after they die, or go in a nursing home, etc. We also learn about their personal lives, and the personal and work intertwine in compelling ways. I hate reading reviews that give away the plot of the book or what's going to happen, but it is difficult to write about a book without mentioning an specifics. The daughter steals a painted drum, a Native American ceremonial drum, from an estate. She wants to return it to where it came from, to the Anishinabe people. In the second part, told by a native elder, we learn the story of the drum and all the events that lead up to the making of the drum and what happened to it afterwards. It's a multi-generational story with deep impact. The effect of the drum touches many people and their lives are enriched (or impoverished) as a result. The book is full of pain, tenderness and magic. Erdrich looks calmly at what it means to be human in all our imperfections, and raises our humanity up of few notches. It is melancholy in a bitterweet and somehow joyous way. I want to take nothing away from the telling of the story, all I can say is I hope anyone who might love it as I did will read it.

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I started reading Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. The beginning section was horrid, lots rambling on and on about process. They should put it at the end for anyone interested after reading the book. The story itself seems interesting so far. (I haven't gotten far with the actual sotry after all that crap at the beginning.)

Here is my new book list (though I am fairly certain it is incomplete):

  1. The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich, July 26, 2009
  2. Acorna, by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball, July 20, 2009
  3. The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbs, by Bill Watterson, July 13, 2009
  4. The Actress, by Elizabeth Sims, July 11, 2009
  5. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  6. Marley: A Dog Like No Other, John Grogan
  7. Goodnight, Gorilla, Peggy Rathmann
  8. Bad Dog, Marley, John Grogan
  9. The Highest Tide, Jim Lynch
  10. Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
  11. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
  12. Dream When You're Feeling Blue, Elizabeth Berg
  13. We didn't mean to go to Sea, by Arthur Ransome
  14. Tara Road, Maeve Binchy
  15. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  16. The Worst Witch at School, Jill Murphy
  17. Saving Fish from Drowning, Amy Tan
  18. The Nick Adams Stories, Ernest Hemingway
  19. The River King, Alice Hoffman
  20. The Probable Future, Alice Hoffman
  21. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  22. Lucifer, A Hagiography, Phillip Memmer
  23. It's a Magical World, Bill Watterson
  24. Pigeon Post, Arthur Ransome
  25. I Claudius, Robert Graves
  26. Peter Duck, Arthur Ransome

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