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The Painted Drum: A Novel by Louise Erdrich
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The Painted Drum: A Novel (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Louise Erdrich

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8783510,093 (3.66)42
Member:GeecheGirl
Title:The Painted Drum: A Novel
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:HarperCollins (2005), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction

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The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich (2005)

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English (32)  French (2)  All languages (34)
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The Painted Drum - Erdrich
4 stars

Faye Travers runs a successful estate liquidation business with her mother. She lives in a small New Hampshire town where she knows all the residents. They have history. She has history. And it all comes with a great deal of emotional baggage.The contemporary storyline is related in Faye’s voice, as a series of somewhat disjointed journal entries or internal conversations. Faye’s history contains the tragic childhood death of her sister and her father’s alcoholism. In middle age she has a shaky relationship with a local sculptor. A relationship that becomes more unstable when his daughter and a local man are victims of a reckless teenaged driver. Dysfunction, alcoholism, grief, and the ripple effects of tragic events; this is Erdrich. It takes time to see all the connections, but it will, eventually, all unravel.

One of the ripple effects of the contemporary storyline is Faye’s discovery of a ceremonial drum among the household effects of the first accident victim. She knows that drum has great collector value, but knowing something of its history, she steals it and returns it to its rightful tribal owner. With the drum’s return, the narrator’s voice shifts to Bernard Shaawano. The story of the drum is Bernard’s family history. More dysfunction, alcoholism, grief, and the ripple effects of tragic events. But this time there is also healing, survival, and a sense of rebirth.

This was not an easy read. Erdrich’s narrators are telling a story, but they have no need for clear explanations or linear sequencing of events. There are gaps, and secrets, and generational connections that are assumed or go unexplained. Bernard’s story has traditional Ojibwe mysticism and legends melded to the poverty and injustice of the reservation. The loss of traditional knowledge is an additional thematic element.

As with other Erdrich books, I found myself thinking about this one long after I read the last page. I also found one passage after another to reread just for the sound of the words.

Some quotes:

“The contents of a house can trigger all sorts of revisions to family history.”

“The body of a drum is a container for the spirit, just as if it were flesh and bone. And although love between a man and a woman can fail, overreach itself, fall prey to suspicions, yet the drum lives on. The drum waits with the patience of unliving things and yet heals with life itself.”

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.”

“And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.”
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
The tale of the Ojibwe painted drum is told in three parts that weave together through the past and the present.
Faye Travers, an estate appraiser who is part-Ojibwe, finds an amazing collection of American Indian artifacts in a home she is recently called to assess.
She alone hears a low note from a drum in the collection...subsequently she takes this drum.
In the second part of the tale, the story shifts to Bernard Shaawano, who lives on the reservation. Faye and her mother bring the drum "home." The drum is pivotal to Bernard's family history which he recounts
The third story opens with nine-year-old Shawnee desperately trying to save her younger brother and sister.
As the tale progresses, she hears something no one else can.....(the low beat of the drum)
Intertwined haunting tales.....
.............done in audio...at times maybe a bit confusing but soon explained in detail.
Many small details to appreciate....The tale of the Ojibwe painted drum is told in three parts that weave together through the past and the present.
Faye Travers, an estate appraiser who is part-Ojibwe, finds an amazing collection of American Indian artifacts in a home she is recently called to assess.
She alone hears a low note from a drum in the collection...subsequently she takes this drum.
In the second part of the tale, the story shifts to Bernard Shaawano, who lives on the reservation. Faye and her mother bring the drum "home." The drum is pivotal to Bernard's family history which he recounts
The third story opens with nine-year-old Shawnee desperately trying to save her younger brother and sister.
As the tale progresses, she hears something no one else can.....(the low beat of the drum)
Intertwined haunting tales.....
.............done in audio...at times maybe a bit confusing but soon explained in detail.
Many small details to appreciate.... ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 23, 2016 |
Just not as good as The Round House which I gave 5 stars to. This one just did not come together well for me. Maybe it was because I listened to it and did not read it. ( )
  theeccentriclady | Aug 19, 2015 |
I must say, Louise Erdrich is a gifted storyteller - a true master of the written word! Her descriptions allow the reader to fall into the pages of the story and become engrossed in the lives of the characters. The Painted Drum gives the reader a lot to think about - mysticism and tribal lore, spirituality and the natural world, life and the eventuality of death - you will be haunted by this novel long after you have put it down.

With exquisite descriptions and poetry, Louise Erdrich has captured my imagination again. I will be on the look out for her other novels at the library and bookstore. The Painted Drum is truly inspired and beautiful. ( )
  susanbevans | Jul 1, 2014 |
One of the best paragraphs I've read in a long time:

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.” --Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

That sort of sums up the whole book, I think.


( )
  Dmtcer | Jun 3, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erdrich, Louiseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Leaving the child cemetery with its plain hand-lettered sign and stones carved into the weathered shapes of lambs and angels, I am lost in my thoughts and pause too long where the cemetery road meets the two-lane highway.
Quotations
You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060515112, Paperback)

While appraising the estate of a New Hampshire family descended from a North Dakota Indian agent, Faye Travers is startled to discover a rare moose skin and cedar drum fashioned long ago by an Ojibwe artisan. And so begins an illuminating journey both backward and forward in time, following the strange passage of a powerful yet delicate instrument, and revealing the extraordinary lives it has touched and defined.

Compelling and unforgettable, Louise Erdrich's Painted Drum explores the often fraught relationship between mothers and daughters, the strength of family, and the intricate rhythms of grief with all the grace, wit, and startling beauty that characterizes this acclaimed author's finest work.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:16 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"When a woman named Faye Travers is called upon to appraise the estate of a family in her small New Hampshire town, she isn't surprised to discover a forgotten cache of valuable Native American artifacts. After all, the family descends from an Indian agent who worked on the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation that is home to her mother's family. However, she stops dead in her tracks when she finds in the collection a rare drum - a powerful yet delicate object, made from a massive moose skin stretched across a hollow of cedar, ornamented with symbols she doesn't recognize and dressed in red tassels and a beaded belt and skirt - especially since, without touching the instrument, she hears it sound." "From Faye's discovery, we trace the drum's passage both backward and forward in time, from the reservation on the northern plains to New Hampshire and back. Through the voice of Bernard Shaawano, an Ojibwe, we hear how his grandfather fashioned the drum after years of mourning his young daughter's death, and how it changes the lives of those whose paths its crosses. And through Faye we hear of her anguished relationship with a local sculptor, who himself mourns the loss of a daughter, and of the life she has made alone with her mother, in the shadow of the death of Faye's sister." "Through these voices, The Painted Drum explores the strange power that lost children exert on the memories of those they leave behind, and as the novel unfolds, its narrative comes to embody the intricate, transformative rhythms of human grief."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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