Read This Book… about Indians…

Written By: sherridaley - • •



Louise Erdrich’s newest called The Round House was a surprise, even though I always carefully scour the New York Times Book Review section to be sure I don’t waste my time.  … I hate that.  I usually get 6-7 library books at a time so if I get a lousy one, I can just flip to the end to see who got murdered or married, toss it on the floor, and pick up the next one in the stack.

The Round House promised a mother attacked, adolescent trauma, and life on an Indian reservation. I was intrigued and not disappointed.  In fact, Erdrich is such a fine writer that I did not hurry through the prose to get to the plot.  That’s the sign of a terrible writer – when the plot carries the book, not the words. Would be nice if they were of equal weight, but that seldom happens.

Maybe here.

No romance, unless you count the ghostly presence of the Ojibwe tribal ceremonies and spirits. Or the efforts of our protagonist’s father to reach his damaged wife after she has been brutally raped.

Basically, it’s a mystery, but with none of the tricks of the trade. I was less concerned with solving the mystery than I was with how everyone was going to deal with it. What happens could only have happened within tribal law — and there’s a sort of satisfying curiosity about it.

The ending reminded me of the final scene of The Graduate. Benjamin and Elaine (in her wedding gown) are in the car.  They ride together, saying nothing, until Elaine says, “Benjamin?”

And Benjamin answers, “What.” And they just keep on driving till the credits roll up.

The final sentence in The Round House is “We just kept going.”



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