Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Painted Drum

I don't read much fiction these days, but every once in a while I pick up a book that speaks to me. The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich, caught me on the third sentence. "These days I consider and reconsider the slightest of choices, as if one might bring me happiness and the other despair." That rings so true for me - and the older I get, the more I seem to fall into what seems like a trap of indecision. A topic for an entire essay of self analysis, but that's not the point of this post!

This book is rich. There are themes of connection between the living and the dead, between past and present, between seemingly unrelated people, and even between people and certain important objects. The impact of passion over generations is explored. Sacrifice and redemption become part of the storyline. The role of parents in shaping their children's lives is significant.

Obviously I saw myself in parts of it, but I also saw Prairiewolf in other parts, and life in general in still other places. Then, in reading the critics' summaries at the end of the book, I noticed that they each seemed to see something totally different than I had seen and than even each of the other critics had seen.

Most amazingly, despite all of the philosophical commentary, the story line seems to move forward naturally, without getting bogged down in needless wordiness.

I highly recommend this book as a satisfying read that leaves you feeling hopeful, yet more aware of life's complexities. And if you do read it, let me know what you think.

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