- Series: P.S.
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Reprint edition (May 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060515139
- ISBN-13: 978-0060515133
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (261 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Plague of Doves: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – May 12, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The dazzling performance of Kathleen McInerney and Peter Francis James creates the sense of a full-cast audio with voices ranging from childhood to the aged with everything in between. With the rhythms of a charming entertainer, Mooshum, a family patriarch, spins tall tales from the days of magical happenings and sad realities. Billy, half-visionary and half-lunatic, is performed as both spellbinding and dangerous. As Antoine Brazil Coutts, James sounds judicious, fair and hesitant at revealing too much. McInerney covers a range of women: Marm, Billy's wife, has an emotionless voice, like one who has to preserve every drop of energy for pending disasters; and Evalina's light lilt with a faint Native American intonation is perfect. Despite the epic cast, the narrators never leave the listener confused. Passages of fiddle music are a lovely addition. This audio is a model recording of one of America's best novelists. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 14). (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* “Every so often something shatters like ice and we are in the river of our existence. We are aware.” Those are the moments Erdrich captures in this mesmerizing novel set in Pluto, North Dakota, a white town on the edge of an Ojibwe reservation. Founded out of white greed, the town is now dying, deserted by both industry and its young people. Evelina, a girl of mixed Indian and white descent, hears many family stories from her irascible grandfather, Mooshum, who has learned to deal with the deep sorrow in his life by practicing the patient art of ridicule (his sly baiting of the local priest is one of many comic highlights). Evelina also learns about the town’s long, bloody history, including the slaughter of a white farm family and the hanging of innocent Native Americans unfairly targeted as the perpetrators of the crime. Over succeeding generations, descendants of both the victims and the lynching party intermarry, creating a tangled history. Throughout Erdrich deploys potent, recurring images—a dance performed to thwart the plague of doves destroying crops, the heartbreaking music of a violin, an athletic nun rounding the bases in her flowing habit—to communicate the complexity and the mystery of human relationships. With both impeccable comic timing and a powerful sense of the tragic, Erdrich continues to illuminate, in highly original style, “the river of our existence.” --Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Multiple narrators, on and off the reservation
The Plague of Doves is set in North Dakota, in the small town of Pluto and the nearby Chippewa reservation. Erdrich tells her story through the perspective of four narrators, with additional stories nested into their tales as elders recount the tragic history of the region. The story overflows with characters, and it takes awhile to understand how closely they’re all connected. The suspense builds, the pieces fall into place, and the the full picture eventually emerges in startling clarity. The Plague of Doves is a brilliant example of a story in the hands of a writer at the peak of her art. It’s at once a snapshot of Native American history, a coming-of-age story, and a novel of suspense.
As the title suggests, a time when passenger pigeons darkened the skies of the American West figures in this tale. Their “numbers were such that nobody thought they could possibly ever be wiped from the earth.” But they were, just as surely as the herds of thundering buffalo were reduced to a handful of survivors — and the Native American population itself was nearly exterminated.
No stereotypes on this reservation
A young woman named Evelina Harp, one-quarter Chippewa like the author, is the first of the book’s four narrators. Here’s how she thinks of herself: “I didn’t really fit in with anybody. We were middle-class BIA Indians, and I wanted to go to Paris.” And here’s how she describes her family: “We are a tribe of office workers, bank tellers, book readers, and bureaucrats. The wildest of us . . . is a short-order cook, and the most heroic of us (my father) teaches.” In other words, you won’t find any stereotypes on this Indian reservation. Yes, alcohol has taken its toll on some of the characters, and others have acted out their response to the genocide in their heritage, but every one of their stories is unique. In the words of one tribal elder when speaking about a young man who had turned to drugs and crime, “He was a bad thing waiting for a worse thing to happen. A mistake, but one that we kept trying to salvage because he was so young.” Erdrich’s characters are as real as they can be.
About the author
Louise Erdrich is a National Book Award-winning novelist of mixed Native American, German, and French heritage. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, which her maternal grandfather served as tribal chairman. Both her parents were schoolteachers. LaRose is her fifteenth adult novel.
Some sections, particularly the opening chapters, and those about the relationship between an evangelical religious sect leader and his wife, feature the intense, emotional scenes that Erdrich writes about so vividly. Other parts - like the closing chapters - seem more about trying to tie things together.
I will certainly read more by Erdrich, for when she is in full flight the pages are alive with energy.
Nevertheless, although the pieces of this novel were originally published as individual short stories, I think the author ties the pieces together well--with the reader's knowledge and understanding progressing bit by bit. Also, the reader often finds that the same event appears differently when told by a second character (the upside of using multiple voices.) The mystery of the lynching is linked both to prior history and to the present interactions of characters. The author skillfully keeps the mystery open until the end of the book, tying the ending to the very beginning. Erdrich addresses issues of family, love/lust, injustice, and greed while enhancing our understanding of the imbalances occasioned by western expansion.