This is the newest novel from the writer Louise Erdrich. Her previous novel was a kind of post-apocalyptic story involving pregnant native women being collected and housed to preserve population growth in a world facing crisis.
So this novel hearkens back to her previous works, especially The Master Butchers’ Singer and tells a close perspective historical novel. The historical moment being told here involves the Federal government’s attempts to “liberate” the Turtle Rock band of native Americans from federal support. This “liberation” of course means the erasure of the protections that the federal government has somewhat guaranteed. This is similar to the ways that the Supreme Court recently decimated protections of the Civil Rights Act by claiming that enough progress had happened.
The story’s title comes from following the author’s grandfather as activist while working as a nightwatchman. This story though is not all she focuses on, as she also invents a young woman named Patrice (Pixie), a vibrant woman who is trying to make sense of the changing world around her where people are expected to be more independent and free (having free choice) while no longer having any of the previous protections. Women, of course, in the novel, has the worst version of all of this.
The novel is energetic and sweet and devastating in equal terms. It’s among the stronger of her novels in its expertise and control over the material. It doesn’t stand out as strongly as some, but it’s still a very competent novel.