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The intertwining of two love stories results in a strangely compelling take on matters of the heart in Treuer's third novel (after The Hiawatha). Dr. Apelles, a Native American who translates Native American texts, works as a book classifier for RECAP (Research Collections and Preservations), a "prison for books" located near an unnamed American city. While at the local public library, Dr. Apelles finds a manuscript that he begins translating. The story-within-a-story is of Bimaadiz and Eta, sole surviving infants of separate villages wiped out by a devastating winter. Discovered by different men from the same tribe, the children are adopted by their saviors, reared together as friends and eventually fall in love. Dr. Apelles, while translating the story, realizes his life is unfulfilling, so he begins a love affair with a fellow book classifier, Campaspe, that parallels Bimaadiz's and Eta's. Treuer obscures time and place in both storylines, and though neither the plots nor characters are remarkable, the author's beautiful prose—Flaubert in some places, Chekhov in others—grabs and holds attention so well that even the narrative contrivances and unlikely coincidences don't diminish the pleasurable reading experience. (Sept.)
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Treuer's latest novel is a metaphysical blending of two love stories, one mythological, the other very much in the urban present. Dr Apelles is a Native American translator of ancient Native American texts--every other Friday. The rest of his time is spent in a vast library, sorting an endless succession of obscure books. He feels that no one would notice if he disappeared, and knows that he takes too much comfort in "the bouquet of languages he holds so dear." Then a new translation he is working on sends him into a tailspin. It's a mythological tale of two orphaned Native Americans from different tribes who fall in love, suffer hardships, and eventually marry. Dr Apelles becomes immersed in his translation, seeing his own life as pale and loveless in comparison. As he becomes romantically involved with a coworker, the translation becomes the story he tells her of his own life. Treuer's novel comprises an intricate and provocative labyrinth that challenges the reader at every turn. (See p.16 for Treuer's Native American Fiction.) Deborah Donovan
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A friend recommended this book, and I loved it. It's about a period of North American history that I don't know much about, told from a true seeming point of view. Read morePublished on June 22, 2013 by Margarite Landry
The book, written by a Native American is quite different from anything I have read lately. Intriguing, but sometimes confusing, would be the description of the reading... Read morePublished on August 9, 2010 by Robert Pond