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Four Souls: A Novel by Louise Erdrich
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Four Souls: A Novel (edition 2004)

by Louise Erdrich

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5831016,933 (3.7)36
Member:aluvalibri
Title:Four Souls: A Novel
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:HarperCollins (2004), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:fiction, contemporary, women, America, first edition

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Four Souls by Louise Erdrich

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Powerful tale of revenge. Told thro multiple points of view, with Fleur being the central character. Provides ingsight into the Obijewa culture, mainly by including the relationship between two older Indians still on reservation. Lot of ways the story could be interpreted. ( )
  Pmaurer | Oct 30, 2014 |
I really liked this book. But even more, really liked reading this book. It got me out of a reading rut and I devoured it in a couple days. There is not a lot of variety among the authors that I read. They are overwhelmingly white and mostly American or British and they more or less write about the world they know(to my credit I think I read an equal balance of men and women, though I'd have to check the hard facts of my goodreads account). Anyway, Louise Erdrich writes about the people she knows, Native Americans - she is part native american and a member of some tribe, only I can't recall the names or the details and I certainly cannot spell them by memory. The result: post-modern novels about Native American issues. She's created this fictionalised world of a reservation where characters and events develop across different books - but not in a chronological way like Harry Potter. Each of her books dip in on one little story, and the next on another maybe a generation down, and so on. Thankfully, the funny and eloquent Nanapush appears frequently. In Four Souls he's the main narrator, telling a story of love and revenge. ( )
  allisonneke | Dec 17, 2013 |
I enjoyed revisiting some of the characters from Little No Horse. ( )
  readingrat | Jun 8, 2011 |
Erdrich is a masterful storyteller. We are at the north Wisconsin reservation, sometime after WWI. We are following the story of the lives of some Native and some immigrant characters. Fluer (the Four Souls) is after her land, but she is both the nemesis of the white man who stole her land, and whom she came to kill, and his slave- she succumbs to him. There is also Margaret and Nanapush- a delightful pair living on the reservation, and a great story of the four of them. ( )
  Niecierpek | Apr 2, 2011 |
Astonishing.

The novel opens in stunning form, moves on to exceptional and moving and then tapers off into just run of the mill fantastic with surprises and delights waiting for the reader like something just round the corner of the trail.

Let’s start with the exceptional. There is a sequence, early on in the novel, were Erdrich is describing a house built for a lumber baron. You’ll have seen houses like this in films and, if you live in the States, you may even have seen one in the flesh, or the brick (although after reading Erdrich, you learn that it’s very much the same thing).

Erdrich describes, in loving, hateful detail, a grand house, built for a lumber baron, built by an architect, to be grand, imposing and a statement. And it is. It’s a statement about the greed, the misery and the desperation that it takes to build a house like this. To get a house like this.

The sequence only lasts a few pages, but it’s spellbinding. She describes how the wood to construct the house has been stolen and tricked from Indians who are now wondering, with all the trees gone, how the hell they are going to stay warm this winter. They are not worried about cooking because when the trees went all the animals that they hunted buggered off too. Even the squirrels. There’s a gruesome description of how the bricks have blood baked into them, which sweats out when they are used to build a fireplace.

And of course all of the craftsmen are cheated out of their wages.

This house could not be more cursed if it had been built on an old Indian burial ground. Indeed, it’s worse, because the house is built of the death of Indians, the theft of their land, trees and living and the consequent misery. In building the house, the lumber baron constructs a curse around himself.

The owner of the house then, is something of a bastard and yet as the book progresses one cannot help but grudgingly like him. Realising the extent of his sins, he has damned himself and this house is a penance.

While wrongs are righted and vengeance is extracted from the swindling swine (although it’s had to extract vengeance on somebody who is bent on self destruction, as will become apparent), life back on the reservation, now bereft of trees, is a picture of domesticity. The contrast is stark. In the city, the rich white man sits in his mansion, wracked by horrors and living in a curse he has woven for himself, wishing his own end, while on the Indian reservation he has deforested, folk live in shacks and trap their lunch (and occasionally stranger game) yet strive for domesticity.

One of the central characters in the novel is Nanapush, an ancient old man who has the truly remarkable ability to fuck things up that any bloke will recognise instantly. Any man, ever, who has had the ‘ohno’ moment, be it sending an indiscrete e mail via ‘copy all’ or assembling Swedish furniture back to front, will smile and cringe simultaneously.

More importantly, if you are a bloke, and have ever thought ‘this will really please my significant other’, then proceeded to, for instance, produce two tickets for a forthcoming rugby international while simultaneously remembering that the day of the match is when you’re supposed to be going to a wedding fayre (always ‘fayre’, don’t ask me why) and realising that the tickets are going to be more use to you than the wedding fayre, judging by her expression, then this is the book for you.

At once hysterically funny and cringe-making, Nanapush’s activities are the perfect comic offset to the dark and terrible deeds happening in the cursed house.

Because Nanapush is a corking example of that most common of males: the type who believe that if they can just keep their fuck-ups concealed long enough, they can put enough good deeds in the bank to offset the wrath of the woman when stupidity is exposed, at the same time ensuring that one is not too attentive and thus arousing suspicion, then everything will be alright. Not true. ( )
  macnabbs | Apr 12, 2010 |
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Epigraph
She threw out one soul and it came back hungry.
Dedication
Kaanish inaa indinaawemaaganitog,
Asemaa ingii pagichige chi otaapin aawat atasookanag. Aya ii onji wegonen ina pichi tazhimag kaaye pichi ozhibii'wag kaagi aaya sig.
Kaawiin wiin aawiya nibaapinenimaasi. Pepekaan inenimishig.
Miigwech, Weweni sago.
First words
Fleur took the small roads, the rutted paths through the woods traversing slough edge and heavy underbrush, trackless, unmapped, unknown and always bearing east.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0066209757, Hardcover)

A strange and compelling unkillable woman decides to leave home, and the story begins. Fleur Pillager takes her mother's name, Four Souls, for strength and walks from her Ojibwe reservation to the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. She is seeking restitution from and revenge on the lumber baron who has stripped her reservation. But revenge is never simple, and she quickly finds her intentions complicated by her own dangerous compassion for the man who wronged her.

The two narrators of Four Souls are from utterly different worlds. Nanapush, a "smart man and a fool," is both Fleur's savior and her conscience. He tells Fleur's story and tells his own. He would like a calm and discriminating love with his sweetheart, Margaret. He is old and would like to face death with his love beside him. Instead the two find themselves battling out their last years. When the childhood nemesis of Nanapush appears and casts his eye toward Margaret, Nanapush acts out an absurd revenge of his own and nearly ends up destroying everything. The other narrator, Polly Elizabeth Gheen, is a pretentious and vulnerable upper-crust fringe element, a hanger-on in a wealthy Minneapolis family, a woman aware of her precarious hold on those around her. To her own great surprise the entrance of Fleur Pillager into her household and her life effects a transformation she could never have predicted.

In the world of interconnected novels by Louise Erdrich, Four Souls is most closely linked to Tracks. All these works continue and elaborate the intricate story of life on a reservation peopled by saints and false saints, heroes and sinners, clever fools and tenacious women. Four Souls reminds us of the deep spirituality and the ordinary humanity of this world, and is as beautiful and lyrical as anything Louise Erdrich has written.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:01 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"A strange and compelling unkillable woman decides to leave home, and the story begins. Fleur Pillager takes her mother's name, Four Souls, for strength and walks from her Ojibwe reservation to the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. She is seeking restitution from and revenge on the lumber baron who has stripped her reservation. But revenge is never simple, and she quickly finds her intentions complicated by her own dangerous compassion for the man who wronged her." "The two narrators of Four Souls are from utterly different worlds. Nanapush, a "smart man and a fool," is both Fleur's savior and her conscience. He tells Fleur's story and tells his own. He would like a calm and discriminating love with his sweetheart, Margaret. He is old and would like to face death with his love beside him. Instead the two find themselves battling out their last years. When the childhood nemesis of Nanapush appears and casts his eye toward Margaret, Nanapush acts out an absurd revenge of his own and nearly ends up destroying everything. The other narrator, Polly Elizabeth Gheen, is a pretentious and vulnerable upper-crust fringe element, a hanger-on in a wealthy Minneapolis family, a woman aware of her precarious hold on those around her. To her own great surprise the entrance of Fleur Pillager into her household and her life effects a transformation she could never have predicted."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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