Monday, 22 March 2010

Book Review: Tracks


Tracks by Louise Erdrich

Category: Fiction

Challenges: POC Challenge, 2010 Challenge

Synopsis: Tracks tells the story of two Native American families in the early 1900s and the conflict that grows between and within them set against the increasingly difficult situation brought on by the pressure of the government.

My Thoughts: My first thoughts on this book is that it is weird. While reading it I couldn’t figure out what it was trying to say. As I thought about it for class it became clear that what Erdirch was trying to say was that if one denies ones heritage one is driven insane. Part of me can buy that but part of me wondered about her way of telling us that.

The story has two narrators who alternate chapters. The first narrator is Nanapush an elderly Native American man. The second narrator is Pauline, a young Native American woman who abandons her heritage. I found the narrative style confusing at first (possibly because I wasn’t paying attention), the first time the narrator changed I didn’t realise it had changed until a couple of pages had gone and I had to go back and read again because I was so confused. Nanapush narrates to his granddaughter whilst who Pauline is telling the story two isn’t clear.

The images and language in the story is beautiful. It has a melodic quiet quality to it. One can almost hear the sorrow for the loss of the land in the choice of words.

What I found difficult with the story is the mixture of magic and reality. I was never clear when we were seeing the truth and when we were inside the mind of an insane person. Sometimes it was quite clear but sometimes it was mixed with enough truth that you could pick out the really insane things but you could not quite tell what was the truth until much later (does that make any sense at all). 

Although I didn’t particularly like the book when I read it, it seems to have stuck under my skin. It seems to be sticking with me.

I’m using this book for the 2010 Challenge (Who Are You Again) because although Erdrich is a famous author I had never heard of her before. I am glad I had this chance to read one of her works.

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Aarti said...

I also have never read anything by Erdrich! I am glad I'm not the only one. What a fun name for a title ;-)

I am not sure this is a book I'd read, but I am trying to read more on Native Americans, so I'm glad for the heads up.

Zee said...

I'm also trying to read more books that I wouldn't normally pick up. As much as I have been disappointed in the school books this term at least it has been good for this. If you have any suggestions for other Native American authors I would love the suggestions.