Shadow Tag: Book summary and reviews of Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

Shadow Tag

A Novel

by Louise Erdrich

Shadow Tag
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2010
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Here is the most telling fact: you wish to possess me. Here is another fact: I loved you and let you think you could. When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, as much the truth about her life and her marriage as the Red Diary - hidden where he can find it - is a manipulative farce. Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, Shadow Tag is an eerily gripping read.

When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the nineteenth century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife - work that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shocking - realises that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career. Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unravelling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and, sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realise, at the beginning of the end. As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies.

In brilliantly controlled prose, "Shadow Tag" fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[H]er steady pacing and remarkable insight into the inner lives of children combine to make this a satisfying and compelling novel." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers familiar with Erdrich's personal life may suspect she has written close to the bone here, but she manages the rare achievement of rising above the facts she has incorporated to create a small masterpiece of compelling, painfully moving fiction." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Erdrich's latest is a brilliant cautionary tale of the shocking havoc willfully destructive, self-centered spouses wreak not only upon themselves but also upon their children." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Erdrich steps out of the deep river of her great Native American saga .... and into a feverish drama of a marriage and household in peril." - Booklist

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Author Information

Louise Erdrich Author Biography

Louise Erdrich is one of the most gifted, prolific, and challenging of contemporary Native American novelists. Born in 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota, she grew up mostly in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her parents taught at Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. Her fiction reflects aspects of her mixed heritage: German through her father, and French and Ojibwa through her mother. She worked at various jobs, such as hoeing sugar  beets, farm work, waitressing, short order cooking, lifeguarding, and construction work, before becoming a writer. She attended the Johns Hopkins creative writing program and received fellowships at the McDowell Colony and the Yaddo Colony. After she was named writer-in-residence at Dartmouth, she married professor Michael Dorris and raised several ...

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Name Pronunciation
Louise Erdrich: er-drik (means rich earth)

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