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The Plague of Doves: A Novel (P.S.) by…

The Plague of Doves: A Novel (P.S.) (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Louise Erdrich

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Title:The Plague of Doves: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:Harper Perennial (2009), Edition: 1 Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (2008)

  1. 20
    Paradise by Toni Morrison (tangentialine)
    tangentialine: I love how the structure is similar, but also how in both books there is attention to some key characters and a focus on racial tension and the heritage of the past. And the language is breathtakingly gorgeous in both books.
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English (52)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Extraordinary. Erdrich uses a succession of first-person narrators that dovetail with each other beautifully, à la Faulkner's The Hamlet. Each voice has its idiosyncrasies and slightly different vocabulary. The action is centered around the unsolved murder of a family of white farmers in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, that evil was discovered at the time by a group of traveling Indian merchants. Only a tiny babe survived in her crib. The Indians are then summarily lynched by white vigilantes. They had nothing to do with it, of course. Erdrich then shows us how for the next 75 years or so that violent history affects both whites and Indians -- and those of mixed blood like Erdrich herself -- living in Pluto, North Dakota, and the nearby reservation. The non-chronological structure works beautifully. Erdrich writes with a precision about feelings that reminds me of the crucial distinction John Gardner famously made between "sentiment" and "sentimentality." (See his The Art of Fiction) Erdrich's ability to make vivid any given scene seems akin to that of Philip Roth at his best. I make this comparison just to give you a sense of the level of mastery she is operating on here. It's plain she's studied her models well. Extraordinary piece. This is my first Erdrich so I look forward to reading more of her. Her new novel Round House, purportedly the second volume of a planned trilogy that begins with Plague of Doves, received the 2012 National Book Award. ( )
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
An intricate family story incorporating the stories of a great grandfather and the modern lives of his descendants. A strong example of compassion for, interest in, and care for the aged in family and community.
  fcaccese | Jan 31, 2014 |
I can understand why many people love this book. Erdrich is a compelling writer who knows how to tell a story, in this case a story of how a crime of the past has its impact on the lives of a small population of Indian, semi-Indian and French immigrant descent in Dakota. Largely set up as a frame story, she gets into the heads of her characters and gives them something unique while the language she uses is stylish and perfectly adapted to the message she wants to convey. However, it bothered me that I noticed how she threaded her stories together. I sometimes got a "vision" that at a certain point she sat at her desk and thought "now, how can I get this character to fit into my overall story. Oh yes, let me just do this and that, etc.". It was consistent and believable, but it sometimes felt like watching a play where you cannot but notice the make-up of the actors and the fact that the stone wall behind them is in fact made of cardboard. It may be a great play but the magic is gone.
I know that fooling the reader is of course a big part of fiction (after all, it's fiction), but I don't like it when I see the gimmicks of the author shine through. I was not surprised to read that parts of this book had already been used for short stories. It would explain why I noticed the fish-hooks and staples that had to put together the larger story.
So mixed feelings about this book. Beautiful prose, great premise and promise... if only Erdrich had written short stories instead. ( )
  JustJoey4 | Nov 18, 2013 |
I think this book is more than a little difficult to describe. But, essentially, it's about the lives of various people living on an Indian reservation in North Dakota, and in a nearby small town. It's about a shocking murder that took place many decades before and the massive injustice that followed, in which three innocent Indian men were lynched. It's about the complex, tangled consequences of that act, reverberating down through the generations as the families of the victims and the perpetrators intertwine. But mostly it's about the people that were shaped by those events, directly or indirectly, and about their individual stories. It's beautifully written, in a slow, intricate, meandering sort of way, and I found it quite compelling, the sort of novel that lingers with you for a little while after you turn the final page. ( )
2 vote bragan | Jun 9, 2013 |
Fiction -- the telling of stories -- is often the most effective way of revealing truth, and Louise Erdrich is masterful at doing just that. Louise Erdrich tells stories about Native Americans, people often overlooked and/or subjected to continuing racism, many of whom live in conditions that would shock white Americans, who sadly seem largely unaware. Such is the ongoing legacy of genocide. Erdrich is herself of mixed blood -- Ojibwe and German -- and she sets her fiction on a North Dakota reservation and its environs, based on Wahpeton, where she grew up. It is to Erdrich what Yoknapatwpha County was to Faulkner.

Her books share a multiple narrator structure, with characters getting their own chapters, able to tell the story from their individual perspectives. In THE PLAGUE OF DOVES the horrors of a past lynching weighs heavily on everyone in the town of Pluto, described by one character as aptly named, since Pluto is the “coldest, loneliest, and perhaps the least hospitable body in our solar system”.

"In 1911, five member of a family -- parents, a teenage girl, and an eight- and a four-year-old boy -- were murdered. In the heat of things, a group of men ran down a party of Indians and what occurred was a shameful piece of what was called at the time, 'rough justice.'"

The legacy of these murders is the story's territory. Erdrich writes beautiful prose, filled with stunning, magic images: doves carpet the land, men are burnt to black by lightning but survive, and dreams are precognitive visions. For all the enchantment of the language and imagery, however, the details are grounded, earthy and perfectly mundane. The combination is revelatory and intoxicating. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | May 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Writing in prose that combines the magical sleight of hand of Gabriel García Márquez with the earthy, American rhythms of Faulkner, Ms. Erdrich traces the connections between these characters and their many friends and relatives with sympathy, humor and the unsentimental ardor of a writer who sees that the tragedy and comedy in her people’s lives are ineluctably commingled. Whereas some of her recent novels, like “Four Souls” (2004), have suffered from predictability and contrivance, her storytelling here is supple and assured, easily navigating the wavering line between a recognizable, psychological world and the more arcane world of legend and fable. . . .
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The gun jammed on the last shot and the baby stood holding the crib rail, eyes wild, bawling.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060515120, Hardcover)

Louise Erdrich's mesmerizing new novel, her first in almost three years, centers on a compelling mystery. The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subsequent distortions of truth transform the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation and shape the passions of both communities for the next generation. The descendants of Ojibwe and white intermarry, their lives intertwine; only the youngest generation, of mixed blood, remains unaware of the role the past continues to play in their lives.

Evelina Harp is a witty, ambitious young girl, part Ojibwe, part white, who is prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a seductive storyteller, a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. Nobody understands the weight of historical injustice better than Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, a thoughtful mixed blood who witnesses the lives of those who appear before him, and whose own love life reflects the entire history of the territory. In distinct and winning voices, Erdrich's narrators unravel the stories of different generations and families in this corner of North Dakota. Bound by love, torn by history, the two communities' collective stories finally come together in a wrenching truth revealed in the novel's final pages.

The Plague of Doves is one of the major achievements of Louise Erdrich's considerable oeuvre, a quintessentially American story and the most complex and original of her books.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subsequent distortions of truth transform the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation and shape the passions of both communities for the next generation.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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