This is novel from Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine collection of books. Generally that means a few things. Those books will be a little haunted by the two figures Nanapush and Fleur Pillager, as this book is, but it doesn’t always mean that a book will be part of a “series” in terms of a continuing chronology.
Here we find ourselves in the contemporary of the 1990s and Lipsha Morrissey, a wayward and somewhat prodigal grandson, is called back home by his grandmother. While there, he is struck immediately by Shawnee Ray, the somewhat (middlingly) estranged wife of his uncle, and the mother of a son named Redford. The two become involved and this opens up a love triangle among Lipsha, Shawnee, and Lyman, the uncle. But life is never so easy as even that as Lipsha ends up needing his uncle’s help, circling around his own issues, being visited by the ghosts and specters of both his past, his family’s past, and even getting into a successful run of light gambling.
It’s not been that long since I’ve read a Louise Erdrich novel, but the last few I have read were her more realistic fictions and the dreaminess, the light magical realism here, and a few other elements (how 1990s this book feels) gave me a kind of nostalgia about this time, novels from this time, and the earlier days of reading her fiction.
“Cold sinks in, there to stay. And people, they’ll leave you, sure. There’s no return to what was and no way back. There’s just emptiness all around, and you in it, like singing up from the bottom of a well, like nothing else, until you harm yourself, until you are a mad dog biting yourself for sympathy. Because there is no relenting.”