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Showing 1-10 of 54 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 169 reviews
VINE VOICEon April 9, 2011
Singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh observes in her "Your Dirty Answer" that "I don't judge people. I just watch them till it's time to look away."

And when you explore Louise Erdrich's apparently semi-autobiographical novel "Shadow Tag," maybe you'll want to avert your gaze, but you probably won't be able to. Her prose is faultless; the story is gripping. The author sets the tale in familiar territory--Minnesota--and populates it as usual with Native Americans (she herself is Ojibwe). But this time out her antagonists, Irene and Gil, could just as easily have been outer-borough New York Ethnics, or Connecticut WASPs.

Anyway, the marriage of these two deeply damaged and rather despicable people spirals apart before your eyes, while their three children and two dogs try to cope.

Shifting back and forth between first-person narrative for the sections in the false red diary and true blue notebook, and third-person narrative for the bulk of the tale (the writer of which isn't revealed until the end--although maybe you'll have figured out who that is by then), Ms. Erdrich provides painful thrills. There's not a word out of place.

The true blue notebook seldom appears in the narrative, and its only purpose seems to be to set up the finale. And maybe there was a better way to achieve this. But the suggestion here is to simply deal with what is before you. And that devastates.'
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on June 13, 2017
My therapy dog and I meet with children in libraries so that the children can read to my dog. This book is a fun read and has nice illustrations. A good tool for our library reading program.
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on December 25, 2011
By Louise Erdrich
Harper Perennial 272 pgs
Rating: 4

This book is excruciating. Also spellbinding. You will be appalled by the mind games being played but you will also come to understand them. At first you won't believe that you would ever play these games. But then you will begin to reflect and wonder if you haven't played some of these games yourself. I enjoyed this book greatly. It is a pleasure to read. Just be forewarned.

Irene and Gil are married and have 3 children. Gil is a successful artist and Irene is supposed to be working on her thesis. Irene has been keeping a journal since their first child was born. There are many of these red bound journals. She has recently discovered that Gil is reading her journal so she has bought another journal, a blue one, and it is the real journal. She has gone so far as to rent a safe deposit box for this blue journal. So far so good but Irene keeps writing in the red journal. She is writing for Gil.

Gil is an almost completely unsympathetic character. He never exhibits any kindness that is not corrupted by self. He so desperately needs to keep this family of his together that he is moved to ever more inspired heights of cruelty. The majority of Gil's work are portraits of Irene in many poses, all graphic images of different stages of body and life. His portraits are an attempt to maintain control over Irene. Almost as if the old Native American belief that a picture takes some of your soul is true. Gil takes pieces of Irene's soul.

Irene seems a much more sympathetic character. But then you realize that you may have made a mistake. There are deep, very dark currents at work in this marriage. Irene begins to resent the portraits Gil has painted of her over the years. She begins to feel those pieces of her soul as they go missing. In big ragged chunks. So since Irene has discovered Gil's disrespect and invasion of her privacy she begins writing fiction for Gil to read.

This is how the plot spins out of control for everyone. As Gil and Irene each struggle for control of the other they take no prisoners. Shadow Tag is sort of a thriller and the tension builds and builds. The twist at the end shocks. And then again it doesn't. You saw this coming even if you didn't. And it tells you all you needed to know about Gil and Irene.

Please visit Louise Erdrich's book store: [...]

*Note that many people believe this book has autobiographical elements. You can take a look at this short bio of Ms. Erdrich's former husband Michael Dorris and make up your own mind:[...]
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 22, 2011
As a three year old I understand trucks, fuzzy bunnies, balloons, trains, and talking silly chickens. I have more of a problem with inventory control at a bookstore in a poor foot traffic location.

I also have a problem with books that bully me and hector me or try to sell me on the importance of books, and the wonder of books, and the excitement of books, and the great smell of books, without being a particularly good book. Eat your spinach; brush your teeth; love books. Got it. Rather, just put a bunch of neat books out and I'll figure out the importance, wonder and excitement for myself.

I don't mean to sound so nasty, (the illustrations are charming, the intentions are certainly good), but, despite my honest effort, I have not made it all the way to the end of this book with any of my grandchildren. Each one has wiggled out of my lap about half way through, and then returned with a book to be read that he or she actually likes. And the fact that this book doesn't seem to fully engage kids is, after all, the most important point.
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on July 4, 2017
Very interesting book
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on August 9, 2016
Classic Louise Erdrich style. Love how she weaves her dark tales of modern native lives and what is faced without sugar coating everything.
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on June 4, 2014
Recommended Age says 3-7 but I think this book really would be more appropriate for ages 1-3. If you're looking for a very quick read for story time then this is perfect. Cute story, good illustrations, but really geared towards a younger reader than my 4 y.o.
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on October 20, 2013
It took me awhile to read this book--even though it wasn't that big. Couldn't seem to stay interested in it. Maybe I just didn't click with any of the characters and things going on with them.
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on June 21, 2011
This book was selected by our city's library book club as the subject for our review. Most of the members didn't like it but I think they just didn't get it. It's not about Indians or alcoholism or self-serving nasty people as they thought. It's about much deeper stuff and much more personal. I liked it so much I wrote a thank you note to the author.
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on June 14, 2014
With gripping acuity Ms. Erdrich describes how a marriage , despite love, despite best intentions can run aground by mismatched expectations. It has a,ll the force of a Greek drama unfolding.
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