Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book #51: Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich

I have a strange relationship with Louise Erdrich's books. Her "classic", the popular Love Medicine, is one of a handful of books I simply cannot read. I've begun it dozens of times, but every time I give up on it and put it down for something else. Other books of hers, though, I've breathed in and loved deeply.

Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country is fascinating on many levels, and its only flaw is that it isn't long enough. Erdrich only scratches the surface of herself, her love of books, her love of family, and her love of Native American tradition. The stories she tells within the pages and the people she introduces are compelling and they teach lessons that are valuable to us today.

The premise of the book is a trip she takes to meet up with the father of her newest daughter, Kiizhikok. She talks of rocks and paintings and her daughter's relationship with animals. She shares fears and joys, dreams (the nighttime kind) and does a fantastic job of explaining Ojibwe traditions without making them seem too private or internal, like readers are intruding by reading about them.

I love Erdrich's work and someday I'll read Love Medicine. Her openness in this book and her discussion of the importance of books in our world is one that I embrace as well as anyone who knows me can attest to (though I'm going to say I'm probably more of a bibliomaniac than a bibliophile, sadly).

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