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The Master Butchers Singing Club (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, July 5, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; P.S. edition (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060837055
  • ASIN: B000Q6GY1M
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Louise Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club is a powerfully told story of love, death, redemption, and resurrection. After German soldier Fidelis Waldvogel returns home from World War I to marry his best friend's pregnant widow, he packs up his father's butcher knives and sets sail for America. He settles in Argus, North Dakota, where he sets up a meat shop with his wife Eva, who quickly befriends the struggling yet resourceful Delphine Watzka. Delphine, who runs a vaudeville show with her balancing partner Cyprian Lazarre, has returned home to Argus to care for her alcoholic father. While most of this emotionally rich novel focuses on the changing landscape of small-town life as seen through Delphine and Fidelis's eyes, Erdrich does a masterful job of illuminating hidden dramas through her secondary characters. Erdrich's portrayal of these various townsfolk, including members of the Master Butchers Singing Club, truly shows off her storytelling talent. Her ability to infuse each character with a distinct and multifaceted personality makes this novel an intimate and thought-provoking adventure. --Gisele Toueg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

All of the virtues of Erdrich's best works-her lyrical precision, bleakly beautiful North Dakota settings, deft interweaving of characters and subplots, and haunting evocation of love and its attendant mysteries-are on full display in this superb novel. Drawing on her paternal German ancestry, Erdrich tells the story of Fidelis Waldvogel, a WWI sniper and master butcher with a "talent for stillness" and for singing. After marrying Eva, the pregnant fiancee of his best friend, who was killed in the war, he emigrates to America. Settling in Argus, N.Dak., he and Eva establish a butcher shop known for its Old World expertise and for housing Fidelis's beloved singing club. The focus then shifts to Delphine Watzka, a performer in a traveling vaudeville act, who has recently returned to Argus to care for her alcoholic father, Roy. Roy's health problems pale beside his legal problems: the predatory Sheriff Hock is investigating how the Chavers family came to perish in Roy's basement. Not willing to abandon Roy, Delphine and her vaudeville partner, Cyprian Lazarre, a homosexual Ojibwa, set up house in Argus, where Delphine soon befriends Eva and develops a disturbing attraction to Fidelis. Erdrich's plot spans 36 years, covering two world wars, several violent deaths, near-deaths, illnesses, accidents and crimes-"awful things occurring to other humans," but somehow not to Delphine, who draws on reserves of toughness and compassion to sustain herself as well as the surprisingly vulnerable Waldvogel family. Some readers may be disappointed by the trajectory of the Fidelis-Delphine love story, which is consummated without quite the fireworks display Erdrich seems to promise, but many others will be deeply moved by the complicated romance. With its lush prose, jolts of wisdom and historical sweep, this story is as rich and resonant as any Erdrich has told.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of twelve novels as well as volumes of poetry, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her debut novel, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent novel, The Plague of Doves, a New York Times bestseller, received the highest praise from Philip Roth, who wrote, "Louise Erdrich's imaginative freedom has reached its zenith--The Plague of Doves is her dazzling masterpiece." Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

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Customer Reviews

I loved this book so much that when I finished it, I opened to page one and read it over again.
Merryworld
For people like me who love character development, the book offers a full development of not only the main characters . . . but also many of the secondary characters.
Donald Mitchell
The author's style of writing and her characters have depth and give a wonderful sense of emotion.
L. Hudson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Roe P. Wiles on May 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
No Spoilers Present For those who haven't read the novel:
Finished The Master Butchers Singing Club 5+ by Louise Erdrich and it bowled me over, promising to be my favorite selection for the year in any genre. Just such a fine reading experience! Once in a while, a book just commands one's attention and is completely gratifying.
I read every word on each page very slowly to savor the language, characters and plot. Drawn in from the onset, the readers' involvement continues to increase at a breakneck pace, even though we slow down to enjoy the nearly perfect prose and comprehend the mental set and daily lives and tasks of our characters between the lines, and their places in the community. Although not 100 percent linear, and episodic in nature, there is no confusion at all for the reader, who is torn between knowing more 'later' or enjoying the 'now'.
The novel is about a young German butcher, Fidelis, who emigrates to the USA after serving in WWI, carrying only a suitcase full of sausages and a perfect set of carving knives. He ends up in Argus, North Dakota, where he establishes his business. The dynamic of Argus itself becomes a character. The book covers only three decades, but feels like an awesomely enduring saga of the complexities of life, over time. In addition to Fidelis... Delphine (it remains her story), Cyprian, Clarissa, Roy, and especially Eva and her boys are characters who remain embedded in the on-deck circle, and each is integral to the fabric of the novel. The Master Butchers Singing Club also incorporates mayhem, madness, murder, and intrigue. I have few words to convey the depth of my experience while reading this novel, so what follows is an excerpt from the book jacket:
>>TMBSC unfolds its themes of love and death, lightness and gravity...
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kramer on March 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As soon as I finished this book, I started over on the first page to scan through the story and stopped to re-read sections to fully savor the connections and events over again.
Delphine is a character I will remember for a long time. She is a true survivor, "No matter what they might have heard at the lumberyard, she wanted to give the impression of an extremely respectable woman, but not one who could not afford, say, a hat with a little green feather. A plain person. Trustworthy. Not a person who had a murderer for a best friend or who'd lived with a vaudeville acrobat or who had a gabby old souse for a father. Delphine, she wanted people to say of her, she's awfully quick, but she's solid and reliable."
The account of Eva and Delphine in the night garden drinking beer while they set the beer out to catch slugs is tender and funny and so full of life and death that it alone makes the book a treasure to read.
I checked this book out of the library but I am going to order it. I want to keep these characters around, not return them.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Aronoff on July 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Master Butchers Singing Club is not much about master butchers or really about their singing, but rather uses this title as a taking off point to tell a story about transplanted people living in the northern midwest of America.

Fidelis, a German, emigrating to America between the two world wars works so hard to keep his family afloat, that he does not have the time or energy to reflect or even interact upon his wife and sons. They do their jobs with him, but his inner life is all but invisible.

Delphine, on the other hand, who befriends Fidelis' wife, Eva...cares for her as she is dying...and later marries Fidelis herself, has a strong inner life. She worries about Fidelis' boys as each of them experiences life's trials, she agonizes about her own father, Roy, the town drunk, drifts in and finally out of a loveless relationship with Cyprian, a circus performer who has taught her balance ( a metaphor for her being able to deal with her future problems), and works her way through additional relationships with her best friend, Clarisse and with Mazarine, who is in love with one of Fidelis' sons.

This inner life/outer life differential between the two main characters is explored in poetic detail by Loiuse Erdrich in this very fine novel.

Bring your patience when your read this book...it is sometime languid and wordy...but it is well worth the effort.

It is beautifully written and it explores an important part of

of our country which is rarely presented.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on March 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is impossible to escape the past. There are a hundred quiet reminders of this in Louise Erdrich's lyrical new novel, THE MASTER BUTCHERS SINGING CLUB: the weight of the butcher knives that help pay Fidelis's way to America; the stain that cannot be scrubbed out of the bed he shares with his first wife, Eva; the town drunk father of Eva's best friend, Delphine, who cannot stay off the sauce; and the physical scars from World War I on Delphine's friend Cyprian, which don't compare to the emotional ones.
Erdrich's book examines them all and, through her two strong heroines, drives to one conclusion. No matter where you come from, you must always move forward --- you must remember the past without becoming crippled by it. This is certainly a point close to Erdrich's heart. After all, her real-life husband killed himself in the midst of a sexual abuse investigation several years ago. If anyone knows how to impart these lessons, it's this half-German, half-Native American author.
The story chronicles two very different women and their eventual intersection. The German Eva marries the butcher Fidelis after World War I. Fidelis, an expert sniper, was best friends with Eva's fiancé --- killed during the war --- and the two soon embark for a fresh start in America. They settle in Argus, North Dakota, a town well known to Erdrich fans. Meanwhile, we are introduced to Delphine, daughter of the drunken Roy, mother unknown. Delphine returns to town after running away with Cyprian, a mysterious half-French, half-Indian balancer with a sexual identity crisis. She and Cyprian settle into normal Argus life once more --- as normal as life can be after discovering three bodies in your father's cellar and your supposed boyfriend's preference for men.
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