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Tracks Paperback – March 16, 2004

3.7 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This "beautifully fashioned, powerful novel," set in North Dakota in the early 1900s, limns Fleur Pillager, a Native American woman who is rumored to be a witch, and whose life mirrors that of crumbling Indian culture and community. "This is a stunning story about people caught in the grip of passion and in the inexorable flow of history," lauded PW. $100,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In her splendid new work, Erdrich retrieves characters from her first novel, Love Medicine , to depict the escalating conflict between two Chippewa families, a conflict begun when hapless Eli Kashpawwho has passionately pursued the fiery, elemental Fleur Pillageris made to betray her with young Sophie Morrissey through the magic of the vengeful Pauline. That simple summary belies the richness and complexity of the tale, told in turn to Fleur's estranged daughter by her "grandfather," the wily Nanapush, and by Pauline, a woman of mixed blood and mixed beliefs soon to become the obsessive Sister Leopolda. As the community is eroded from withoutby white man's venalityand from within, even Fleur must realize that "power goes under and gutters out." Not so for Erdrich, whose prose is as sharp, glittering, and to the point as cut glass. Highly recommended. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (March 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060972459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060972455
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After reading several different Native American authors, I finally had the privilege of reading Louise Erdrich. TRACKS captured my imagination as I listened to Nanapush and Pauline tell their stories. Erdrich brilliantly has the two narrators cast doubt upon each other's tales- a tactic which makes the book all the more enthralling to read. Pauline's zealous quest for sainthood, filled with sacrifices that border on ridiculousness, contrasts with Fleur's relationship to nature, embodied in the forest and the lake creature, Misshepeshu. Erdrich's characters endear themselves to the readers with their first-person revelations, their bawdy senses of humor, and their uncanny strength. The sexual banter between Margaret and Nanapush brings the characters to thriving, realistic life. TRACKS presents these characters against the backdrop of a dwindling forest, which government agents consume piece by piece, selling to American logging companies. As Fleur and Nanapush's homeland disappears, their struggle to control their own future becomes present and touching. Each of the characters reaches out in a different way to attempt to determine their future in some way. TRACKS deserves several reads, and Louise Erdrichs deserves high praise for an incredible and entertaining work.
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By A Customer on October 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
In keeping with the development of Erdrich's rich, fictional Native American saga, "Tracks" takes her characters one step closer to reality. Contrary to initial impression, the novel does not limit itself by cultural lines. Erdrich's work provides an insightful and engrossing tale, which highlights the struggles of a frayed culture. However, spoilers abound and surprises go unappreciated for those who haven't read her previous works first. Erdrich makes brilliant use of alternating narrators. One speaker is a highly spiritual grandfather named Nanapush, and the other a crazed and confused Indian woman called Pauline, retelling the life of protagonist Fleur. Both offer differing slants when shedding light on Fleur's troubles, including passage through a suicidal youth and falling in love with shy Indian boy Eli. Rich imagery, and the short-and-sweet figurative way of Native American storytelling may be a bit much for some. However, the manner of speech fits the novel beautifully for those so inclined to a book of this type. Interesting, not mind-blowing, it is an honest and sufficient work in the representation and preservation of a culture.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book in a Native American Literature course about 12 years ago. My father is full blooded Native American and my teacher was white and I thought he couldn't teach me anything. I had a chip on my shoulder and my teacher knocked it off of me with this book. He told me he wanted ME to teach this book to the class so I had to read this book like I had never read any book before. Perhaps my unique connection to the book made me enjoy the book more than these other reviewers, but I think that it would still be one of my favorite books even if had not read it for class. I teach high school English and have read A LOT of books - all kinds of books, not just classics. Even if you read this and find that you can't fully understand it, that's OKAY. Part of the problem with my students is they are always looking for the AUTHOR"S interpretation or the TEACHER'S interpretation - just enjoy your own interpretation. The book is not that hard to understand, but the imagery and symbolism is deep. This is an important book, as pretty soon there will be no Native Americans left to tell our stories. Less than 1% of this nation is Native American and it's important to read these stories. The mixing of Christianity with Native traditions is particularly significant in this story. In fact, I based my Master's thesis on the themes in this work. I met Louise Erdrich a couple of years ago at a book signing and I wanted to tell her this book changed my life, but how cheesy would that be?
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Format: Paperback
"Tracks" of Fleur and through her the end of a way of life for a Native American tribe in the early 20th century. Her story and the tribes story is told through the eyes of two people, Nanapush an elder who is sympathetic to Fleur and the Native American lifestyle and through Pauline a woman twisted with a sort of love/hate obsession with Fleur and a repulsion of her own heritage.
Nanapush tells the story to his `granddaughter' Lilly, Fleur's child. He does this to explain her incomprehensible mother who seems to have abandoned her for no reason as well as a way to explain the politics of the tribe. He wants to save Lily from what he sees as an unsuitable marriage and reunite her with her mother and fully with her Native American heritage.
Pauline, narrates to who knows what or who or for what purpose. Her madness is captivating and is a manifestation of the sickness, literally and figuratively, that the alien (white) culture brings to the Native American people.
At the same time this is a story about women. Fleur, is an incomprehensible woman who breaks the rules of what it is to be an Indian woman and is feared and respected as a consequence of her actions. Her beauty and fierceness make her a force of nature. Pauline is a woman who is treated without worth as a woman. It is this, and her soul sickening envy, I believe, that drives her madness. Margaret, Lily's grandmother represents the traditional strong Native American woman I believe, and while her methods for survival are of the Mac tuck variety she ends up surviving and living the best of all three of the woman.
The book covers 12 years and is a lyrical look at a culture's struggle to survive.
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