Monday, July 07, 2008

The Lake

... I began to understand why people said of the lake there's no end to it, when of course, as I always thought, it was bounded by rocks. But there were rivers flowing in and flowing out, secret currents, six kinds of weather working on the surface and a hidden terrain underneath. Each wave washed in from somewhere unseen and washed right out again to go somewhere unknown...
~Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves

Spending a weekend at what we Midwesterners call "The Lake" can be most sublime, or just plain ridiculous. "The Lake" is a concept, a fictional conceit, a mass delusion. Wilderness trekkers aside, the Modern Idea of "The Lake" is a home away from home, in fact, just like home, except that instead of streets and parks, there is a body of water. "The Lake" used to be a humble cabin, with a rickety dock amidst the reeds, a place where Nature was unchallenged, visitors were few and respectful. Somewhere along the line the experience became another form of consumerism, of display, with noisy and smelly machines churning the aqueous mirror, shattering the silence and destroying the shoreline habitat. Not much sustenance for the mystic poet here: Walden be dammed.

Last weekend was not completely misspent, however, for I read the latest book from Louise Erdrich, who is by now some sort of patron saint of Minnesota-North Dakota literature. The Plague of Doves is her twelfth novel, a glorious mash of small town secrets and passion. All of her books are great- if you're interested in starting a relationship with a new author her novel Tracks would be a good place to begin but feel free to dive right in if you happen across any of these other titles:
Love Medicine
The Beet Queen
The Bingo Palace
Tales of Burning Love
The Antelope Wife
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
The Master Butchers Singing Club
Four Souls
The Painted Drum

The Crown of Columbus (with Michael Dorris)

By Professor Batty


Blogger lab munkay said...

I love Louise Erdrich. Someday I will again have the time to enjoy reading. Other than blogs.

Blogger Rose said...

Our experiences at Donner Lake, when we go back to visit, have a similar downside. It's really hard for the motor boaters and the paddlers (and, I guess, sailors) to use our waterways compatibly...:-(
Luckily the James River has a lot of area that isn't suitable for motor boats, so the rest of us can enjoy it in peace.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

munkay- I like The Painted Drum the best, if you were to find time for just one...

Rose- that is one thing about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that keeps people coming back. Oh, and I recommend Ms. Erdrich for you as well...

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