A powerfully involving novel from one of America's finest writers, and winner of America's prestigious National Book Award for Fiction 2012 Sister Cecilia lives for music, for those hours when she can play her beloved Chopin on the piano. It isn't that she neglects her other duties, rather it is the playing itself - distilled of longing - that ...
A powerfully involving novel from one of America's finest writers, and winner of America's prestigious National Book Award for Fiction 2012 Sister Cecilia lives for music, for those hours when she can play her beloved Chopin on the piano. It isn't that she neglects her other duties, rather it is the playing itself - distilled of longing - that disturbs her sisters. The very air of the convent thickens with the passion of her music, and the young girl is asked to leave. And so it is that Sister Cecilia appears before Berndt Vogel on his farm, destitute, looking for sanctuary. Decades later, old Father Damien lays down his pen and dresses for bed. Slowly, he removes his heavy robes, undergarments and, at last, a bandage wound tightly around woman's breasts. Having lived for so long as a man, he fears that the discovery of his true identity will undo all that he has accomplished...Moving and lyrical, 'The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse' is a powerful work from one of contemporary literature's brightest stars.
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Since the publication of her first acclaimed novel Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich has undertaken a saga of Faulknerian proportions by writing a series of interconnected novels about both Native American and European American characters set in the Dakotas. In doing so, she has created a wholly imagined world. It has proven to be one of the most satisfying reading pleasures of this milennial era.
In The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, her 2001 novel, the reader learns that Father Damien Modeste has tended to the Ojibwe people on the reservation of Little No Horse for nearly 50 years. Yet as he approaches death, he fears his unmasking; he is a woman who has posed as a man. His secluded life is threatened when a colleague visits in order to investigate the problematic life of Sister Leopolda (first introduced in Love Medicine as a sadistic nun).
The gender disguise at the heart of the novel is utterly convincing. Erdrich uses the names of Agnes and Father Damien interchangeably to refer to the protagonist throughout the novel and what initially seems an awkward device is soon accepted by the reader as a double perspective, both female and male.
As always, Erdrich's delineation of overpowering desire, malevolence, enmity, and disease is persuasive; terrible events occur in the novel. While the author describes a hardscrabble life among the Ojibwe generations, Nanapush, the priest's closest friend, and Father Damien are at its spiritual heart; through Damien, the author achieves a wondrous synthesis of Native American and Catholic belief. (One slight caveat: an afterword isn't the most effective way to bring closure to a novel). Also recommended are Erdrich's The Beet Queen, The Antelope Wife, and of course Love Medicine.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-07-02 Erdrich renders her North Dakota world of the Ojibwe with a lyrical and richly metaphorical prose style. Her narrative is interspersed with dozens of comic, tragic and all-too-human stories that illuminate her lively, complex and often bizarre Ojibwe people and the priests who come to convert them and minister to their needs. She compassionately portrays Father Damien (n?e Agnes DeWitt) through worldly and spiritual joy, confusion and crisis. Erdrich commingles and explores many world views as Father Damien's life and thought are continually and profoundly reshaped by the lives, events, rites and rituals of the parishioners who come to love him so deeply. But some of the book's strengths become problems for listeners e.g., complicated family relations, complex exposition, confusing jumps back and forth between different time frames throughout an entire century. Fields has a pleasing voice, a fine feel for the material and the characters and a knack for low-key dramatization. But she has a narrow vocal range that becomes tiresome through 14.5 hours of tape. Based on the HarperCollins hardcover. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2001-01-29 Erdrich seems to be inhabiting her characters, so intense and viscerally rendered are her portrayals. Her prose shimmers: a piano being carried across the plains is "an ebony locust." This novel will be remembered for a cornucopia of set pieces, all bizarre and stunning: wounded and taken hostage by a bank robber and pinned to the running board of his Overland automobile, Agnes, "her leg a flare of blood," briefly touches hands with her astonished lover as the car crosses his path; old man Nanapush, impaled on fish hooks that pin him to a boat that's hitched to the antlers of a wounded moose, careens through the woods in delirious exhaustion. Writing with subtle compassion and magical imagination, Erdrich has done justice to the complexities of existence in general and Native American life in particular. First serial selections in the New Yorker have whetted appetites for this novel, and picks by BOMC and QPB, major ad/promo and an author tour will give it wide exposure. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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