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The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse


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About the Author

Louise Erdrich grew up in North Dakota and is of German-American and Chippewa descent. She is the author of five previous novels, the first of which, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her short fiction has twice won the National Magazine Award and had been included in the O. Henry and Best America collections several times.


Erdrich renders her North Dakota world of the Ojibwe with a lyrical and richly metaphorical prose style. Her narrative is interspersed with dozens of comic, tragic and all-too-human stories that illuminate her lively, complex and often bizarre Ojibwe people and the priests who come to convert them and minister to their needs. She compassionately portrays Father Damien (n?e Agnes DeWitt) through worldly and spiritual joy, confusion and crisis. Erdrich commingles and explores many world views as Father Damien's life and thought are continually and profoundly reshaped by the lives, events, rites and rituals of the parishioners who come to love him so deeply. But some of the book's strengths become problems for listeners e.g., complicated family relations, complex exposition, confusing jumps back and forth between different time frames throughout an entire century. Fields has a pleasing voice, a fine feel for the material and the characters and a knack for low-key dramatization. But she has a narrow vocal range that becomes tiresome through 14.5 hours of tape. Based on the HarperCollins hardcover. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

'An extravagant and colourful story of family feuds, illicit love and murder... a lavish celebration of the natural world and the mysteries that lie within it.' Sunday Telegraph 'Rocks and rollicks between drama and comedy, and then swoops and soars into descriptions of romantic and religious exaltation... Some of Erdrich's setpieces are dazzlingly funny, while her evocations of suffering and loss can be heartbreaking.' TLS 'Encompasses a profound sense of the astonishing range of human yearning: the ways in which people and communities find the love, laughter and meanings they need to get through.' Independent 'Erdrich's North Dakota has the same mythological imprint as Annie Proulx's Newfoundland. Best enjoyed on a veranda with something sweet and distilled.' Guardian 'Magnificent... Erdrich is a marvellous storyteller' The Times 'Erdrich's best so far... dazzling' USA Today 'So moving, so precisely observed... Erdrich uses her remarkable storytelling gifts to endow it with both emotional immediacy and the timeless power of fable.' New York Times

Readers of Erdrich's new work know right away that it concerns a mystery the elderly Father Damien Modeste, who has served on an Ojibwa reservation for decades, says as much in the impassioned missive to the Pope that opens the book. And the mystery is not that Father Damien Modeste is actually a woman in disguise, a startling secret that gets spilled in the next few pages. There is much more to come in this rich, sprawling tale (overwritten but beautifully overwritten) as it makes an anguished plunge into the past occasioned by the appearance of Father Jude Miller, sent to ascertain whether Sister Leopolda deserves sainthood. The answer to his quest lies buried in a tangled web of reservation history, and as it is slowly unwound, we encounter white abuse, Native suffering and survival, and religious and sexual ecstasy (sometimes conjoined), plus Pillagers, Morrisseys, Kapshaws, and other characters readers of Erdrich (The Antelope Wife) already know. The initial sense, then, is of treading old ground, but as the novel unfolds, it gathers strength like a giant thunderhead and strikes one right through the heart. The investigation of art as mainstay and revelation is particularly sharp, and one hopes Erdrich will pursue this line of thought in her next work. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/00.] Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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