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LaRose (Littérature) (French Edition) Pocket Book – October 30, 2019
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Dakota du Nord, 1999. Le ciel, d’un gris acier, recouvre les champs nus d’un linceul. Ici, des coutumes immémoriales marquent le passage des saisons, et c’est la chasse au cerf qui annonce l’entrée dans l’automne. Landreaux Iron, un Indien Ojibwé, vise et tire. Et tandis que l’animal continue de courir sous ses yeux, un enfant s’effondre. Dusty, le fils de son ami et voisin Peter Ravich, avait cinq ans.
Ainsi débute le nouveau roman de Louise Erdrich, qui vient clore de façon magistrale le cycle initié avec La Malédiction des colombes et Dans le silence du vent. L’auteure continue d’y explorer le poids du passé, de l’héritage culturel, et la notion de justice. Car pour réparer son geste, Landreaux choisira d’observer une ancienne coutume en vertu de laquelle il doit donner LaRose, son plus jeune fils, aux parents en deuil. Une terrible décision dont Louise Erdrich, mêlant passé et présent, imagine avec brio les multiples conséquences.
La fascinante conteuse se surpasse en simplicité, en intensité, en flamboyance. Marine Landrot, Télérama.
Envoûtant. Hubert Artus, Lire.
Une tragédie servie par une écriture contractée, sèche, magnifiquement traduite. Du grand art. Cécile Dutheil, Le Monde.
Traduit de l’anglais (États-Unis) par Isabelle Reinharez.
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD 2016.
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About the Author
Louise Erdrich est née en 1954 dans le Minnesota. D’origine germano-américaine et amérindienne, elle est l’une des grandes voix de la nouvelle littérature indienne d’outre-Atlantique. Autrice de La Chorale des maîtres bouchers, de Love Medicine ou encore de Ce qui a dévoré nos cœurs, son écriture a les accents de William Faulkner et Toni Morrison. Récompensée par de nombreux prix littéraires, elle a été distinguée en 2012 par le prestigieux National Book Award pour Dans le silence du vent et, en 2015, par le Library of Congress Award pour l’ensemble de son œuvre et en 2021 par le Prix Pulitzer de la fiction pour Celui qui veille.
- Publisher : LGF (October 30, 2019)
- Language : French
- Pocket Book : 576 pages
- ISBN-10 : 225324063X
- ISBN-13 : 978-2253240631
- Item Weight : 10.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.37 x 0.91 x 7.05 inches
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About the author
Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2016
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The novel then tracks the Iron and Ravich families over the next four years, as they try to adjust to and live with the horrendous event. Over time, they end up sharing LaRose, who turns out to be preternaturally good, mature, and understanding. Much of the novel is devoted to the teenage daughters of the two families -- Snow and Josette Iron and Maggie Ravich. They become a tight trio playing on the reservation high school volleyball team, and their adolescent hijinks and sparkling repartee frequently warm the heart or evoke a smile. The story includes other characters from the reservation, two of whom assume major roles: Father Travis Wozniak, an ex-Marine and survivor of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, who operates as a strict but compassionate moral conscience, but then becomes plagued by a love for Emmaline Iron; and Romeo Puyat, a scrawny, weasely Indian and bottom-feeder, who has a long-standing grievance against Landreaux Iron for which he plots vengeance, even though Landreaux and Emmaline took in and raised his son Hollis, after the mother deserted Romeo.
Along the way, the reader is provided what I assume to be an excellent picture of contemporary (circa 2000) life on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota: A mélange of modern American life and traditional practices. Many adults working odd jobs to make ends meet. Some adults drug- or alcohol-addled. Much abuse of opiates and prescription painkillers. Diabetes. Yet a functioning community.
That community is marvelously brought together and portrayed in the novel's closing chapter. The event is a high-school graduation party for Hollis Landreaux, who is then going into the National Guard. "[T]he yard around the house was crowded with people talking, filling plates with food, laughing, like, well, a bunch of Indians. So many people were eating that all the chairs were taken, then the back steps, the front steps. Towels were laid on top of the cars so girls wouldn't stain their flouncy skirts with car dirt. People stood talking with plates of food in their hands, eating and eating because the food was top-shelf."
The boy LaRose is the fifth LaRose in Emmaline's family, stretching back a century. Interwoven throughout the novel is a thread of the story of those LaRoses. Most of it involves the very first LaRose, an Indian girl so named by the white trader who saved her from a life of sexual degradation and eventually married her. Thus, the novel LaROSE also tells a more historical story of Native Americans, in which tuberculosis and boarding schools are especial scourges.
This is the fourth book that I have read by Louise Erdrich. She is a creative storyteller and a powerful writer, who at times seems to reach the primeval. Over the years she has continuously refined her craft. LaROSE, while very good, is not perfect: although it is not overwhelming, there is too much magical realism, too much of the supernatural for my taste, and the characters of LaRose and his sisters Snow and Josette are too goody-goody. (The girl Maggie, on the other hand, is delightfully complex.) But these are small quibbles. LaROSE is a novel well worth reading, and it should prove memorable in its demonstration that "Sorrow eats time" and "Time eats sorrow."
LaRose is the third book in a sort of loose trilogy that started with The Plague of Doves, continued with The Round House and now reaches (perhaps) a conclusion with this book. Or perhaps there will be more books set in this community of the Indian reservation, a place where different characters and their ancestors recur and where the past seems a part of the present. As Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It is not even past." It was true in Faulkner's books and it is true in Erdrich's books, as well.
The title character of this current book is a young boy, five years old when we meet him, who is descended from generations of female LaRoses. He is the fifth in a line of LaRoses in his family and, in time, we meet them all. Soon after the beginning of the story, we go back to 1839 and the first LaRose, who was sold to a white man who raped her. Ultimately, she played a part in his murder, and she achieved a happier future, finding love, romance, marriage, and family. But she also suffered for many years with tuberculosis and when she died in the care of white scientists, those scientists stole her bones and put them on display. Generations of her family fought to have those bones returned to her community.
But back to the fifth LaRose, who is five years old in 1999 when fears of Y2K - remember that? - were abroad in the land.
LaRose's father goes hunting one day and finds the buck that he wishes to kill to feed his family. He sights the animal with his rifle, but as he pulls the trigger, there is a blur between him and the deer and the deer runs away. He has hit something but it wasn't the buck. To his horror, he finds that he has shot a child. It is Dusty, the five-year-old son of his best friend and neighbor and the playmate of his son, LaRose.
LaRose's father is a home health aide, a beloved and respected member of his community, but the question which the book asks is, can a person do the worst thing possible and still be loved? This man has done the worst thing possible in killing an innocent child. Can his community forgive him or will he be ostracized?
He searches for a way to make atonement and finds a possible answer in the traditions of his people. He convinces his wife that they must give their own son to the parents of the dead child as a replacement for that child. (Erdrich notes in her postscript that such transfers did occasionally happen.)
The transfer is made and LaRose becomes a kind of ambassador between the two families, working to alleviate the suffering of both. He has the gift of healing and of seeing into the world where the spirits of the dead dwell, and the act of sharing this special child sets in motion a chain of events that will, in the end, transform the lives of all it touches.
In her last book, The Round House, we saw the workings of revenge/justice. In LaRose, Erdrich explores the other side of that coin - forgiveness. She answers the question of whether a person can still be loved after doing the worst thing possible with a resounding "Yes!"
There are so many rich and wonderful characters in this book. I cannot even attempt to mention them all here, but Erdrich's writing makes splendid use of all those multiple voices in telling this story. We get to know each of them and to respect them as individuals and as part of a larger community that values and cares for them, even the ones with messed up lives, usually ruined by drugs and/or alcohol.
Erdrich brings us her unique perspective of a culture which the larger American society has sought in its worst moments to annihilate. She shows us that that culture is still standing, still nurturing its people, and that we are all richer for it.
It was disturbing on many levels and showed me that I know almost nothing about the plight and living situations of Native Americans which troubles me. I've read many books by Louise Erdrich and am drawn to her stories and the rich descriptions but I felt the were fewer descriptions to help me draw a mental picture of the physical surrounding of
the characters especially since so much of the lives of the characters were so foreign to me and my life. I couldn't determine if the characters lived in a more rural or small town situation even though it seems logical that it would be rural. Was one family on the reservation and the other outside of it? Was there an adversarial relationship between the
Native Americans and the "whites" in the volley ball game or were there tribal rivalries?
It was difficult to deal with the lack of quotes around the conversations but that device did set up sort of vague, stilted
tone in the style of narrative and somehow moved the story along in a unique way. I read very fast and perhaps I missed a few things.
Larose was a aged sentient being in a little boy body. I loved him and the way he was able to heal two families.
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About the 80% of the book I dropped it.
And I felt myself stupid to have reached so far.
Perhaps is a book for academics and critics but I am only a 63 years old reader.