I’m starting my very first reading project, which will be focused on the work of American and Ojibwe author Louise Erdrich. I will read her bibliography in order of publication (I’ve only read 3 of her novels so far), and post thoughts on each book. I expect there’ll be some feature posts, as well.
The point of this project is to fix myself up. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my mental health has suffered a great deal in the past year or so, and I’ve lost pretty much all sense of direction and motivation. I hope this project will give me something to focus on, and a sense of accomplishment.
Louise Erdrich is the perfect subject for me. Not only because I’ve developed a sort of obsession for her work, but simply because she is a writer. My anxiety manifests itself mainly in my reading; I grow terrified that I won’t be able to read, and sure enough, I end up blocked. A reading project seems like the most pragmatic way to address this problem. And I know I can count on Louise’s beautiful prose to spur me forward.
I won’t hide that I’m terrified (this word, again). My perfectionism has already painted the finished project in my head, and is whispering that nothing less will do. My self-doubt is listing reasons why it’s safer to retreat. But I have to take a risk sometime, and all things considered, this is quite a small, fun one to start with. I look forward to what I will learn along the way.
Below is the list of books, and the order I will read them in. I have left out four titles: the two picture books Grandmother’s Pigeon and The Range Eternal, and the two collaborations with Michael Dorris The Crown of Columbus and Route Two. I might read them in the future, but they don’t feel necessary to my list for now. This will be an ongoing project, without a deadline, and I will add new books as they are published.
Jacklight (poetry collection, 1984)
Love Medicine (novel, 1984)
The Beet Queen (novel, 1986)
Tracks (novel, 1988)
Baptism of Desire (poetry collection, 1989)
The Bingo Palace (novel, 1994)
The Blue Jay’s Dance: a Birthyear (non-fiction, 1995)
Tales of Burning Love (novel, 1997)
The Antelope Wife (novel, 1998. I will read the updated edition, The Antelope Woman, published in 2016)
The Birchbark House series (children’s books): The Birchbark House (1999); The Game of Silence (2005); The Porcupine Year (2008); Chickadee (2012); and Makoons (2016)
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (novel, 2001)
Original Fire: Selected and New Poems (poetry, 2003)
Books and Island in Ojibwe Country (non-fiction, 2003)
The Master Butchers Singing Club (novel, 2003)
Four Souls (novel, 2004)
The Painted Drum (novel, 2005)
The Plague of Doves (novel, 2008)
The Red Convertible: Collected and New Stories (short story collection, 2009)
Shadow Tag (novel, 2010)
The Roundhouse (novel, 2012)
LaRose (novel, 2016)
Future Home of the Living God (novel, published 14th November 2017)
You can already read my somewhat personal entry about The Roundhouse here.
I hope you’ll join me. If you’re a Louise Erdrich fan, feel free to get in touch. If you’ve never heard of her work, stick around and I’ll show you why you’re missing out. Wish me luck!