Friday, March 19, 2010

Lit Crit

Shadow Tag
by Louise Erdrich

It's about time I ended the foto-foolishness of my previous posts. Your Batty Professor now offers up some serious and valuable literary criticism.

Louise Erdrich's new book is a bit of a departure for her, a concise novel about a dysfunctional couple and the effects of their discord upon their children. I usually steer clear of books like these, although they may hold some schadenfreude potential, they are usually too unpleasant to bear with till the always unsatisfying finish. The best of these type of books illuminate some of the darker parts of the human condition, the worst ones only bring out the worst in the reader.

This is somewhere in between; Ms. Erdrich is too good a writer to wallow in the muck of despair, but this is also a somewhat humorless book, the net result being that it reads well, but flat. She frames the story with the very clever use of multiple diaries, and the ending comes with the same sense of surprise that one might get when reading another person's secret journal. If you've read any of Louise's fiction before, you won't be disappointed. If you haven't, you might want to start with another title.

By Professor Batty


Blogger lab munkay said...

Her stories do not have the same magic as when she had her husband as editor.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Hmmm... maybe not as magical, but I thought The Painted Drum was better than the early ones. Some of the later ones, especially Four Souls, I couldn't get into at all. The sex was better in the earlier ones. Some reviewers have suggested that Shadow Tag contains a lot of her marriage to Michael Dorris, but I don't want to go there.

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