Summary and book reviews of The Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

The Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse

by Louise Erdrich

The Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich X
The Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2001, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2002, 368 pages

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Book Summary

A passionate and poetic writer, Louise Erdrich lends both elegance and wit to her most ambitious novel to date. The Last Report reaffirms Erdrich's status as one of America's best novelists.

For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved people, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Compelled to his task by a direct mystical experience, Father Damien has made enormous sacrifices, and experienced the joys of commitment as well as deep suffering. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. He imagines the undoing of all that he has accomplished -- sees unions unsundered, baptisms nullified, those who confessed to him once again unforgiven. To complicate his fears, his quiet life changes when a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, difficult, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda. Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Sister Leopolda's piety, but these facts are bound up in his own secret. In relating his history and that of Leopolda, whose wonder working is documented but inspired, he believes, by a capacity for evil rather than the love of good, Father Damien is forced to choose: Should he reveal all he knows and risk everything? Or should he manufacture a protective history? In spinning out the tale of his life, Father Damien in fact does both. His story encompasses his life as a young woman, her passions, and the pestilence, tribal hatreds, and sorrows passed from generation to generation of Ojibwe. From the fantastic truth of Father Damien's origin as a woman to the hilarious account of the absurd demise of Nanapush, his best friend on the reservation, his story ranges over the span of the century.

In a masterwork that both deepens and enlarges the world of her previous novels set on the same reservation, Louise Erdrich captures the essence of a time and the spirit of a woman who felt compelled by her beliefs to serve her people as a priest. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is a work of an avid heart, a writer's writer, and a storytelling genius.

Chapter One
Naked Woman Playing Chopin
1910-1912

Eighty-some years previous, through a town that was to flourish and past a farm that would disappear, the river slid -- all that happened began with that flow of water. The town on its banks was very new and its main street was a long curved road that followed the will of a muddy river full of brush, silt, and oxbows that threw the whole town off the strict clean grid laid out by railroad plat. The river flooded each spring and dragged local backyards into its roil, even though the banks were strengthened with riprap and piled high with rocks torn from reconstructed walls and foundations. It was a hopelessly complicated river, one that froze deceptively, broke rough, drowned one or two every year in its icy run. it was a dead river in some places, one that harbored only carp and bullheads. Wild in others, it lured moose down from Canada into the town limits. When the land along its banks was newly broken, paddleboats and barges of ...

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Introduction
Beginning with her National Book Critics Circle Award-winning first novel Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich has spent nearly two decades carving her own fictional landscape from both the rough and mystical details of life on and around a North Dakota Indian reservation. In her masterful new novel, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, Erdrich weaves a tale that spans nearly a century, the strange and compelling story of Father Damien Modeste, a beloved reservation priest who has hidden his true identity as a woman beneath his cassock.

When the novel begins in 1996, movement is afoot to consider Sister Leopolda, the former Pauline Puyat, for canonization because of purported miracles associated with her. But ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Los Angeles Times
Messy, ribald, deeply tragic, preposterous and heartfelt, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is a love story, and what shines most brilliantly through its pages are Erdrich's intelligence and compassion. Let the world shake, buckle, storm and burn. Let the people suffer, as they will. It is our connections to the past and the future, through families and connections to kin, that grant us our saintliness and our transcendent power.

Los Angeles Times
Messy, ribald, deeply tragic, preposterous and heartfelt, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is a love story, and what shines most brilliantly through its pages are Erdrich's intelligence and compassion. Let the world shake, buckle, storm and burn. Let the people suffer, as they will. It is our connections to the past and the future, through families and connections to kin, that grant us our saintliness and our transcendent power.

Elle
Spellbinding….While displaying the lyrical grace of Love Medicine, her first and best novel, The Last Report is angrier, more ambitious, full of 'madness, the stars, sin, and death.' But what surpassing pleasures spring from its wild, dark vision.

New York Times Book Review
[B]eguiling . . . Erdrich takes us farther back in time than she ever has, so far back that she comes, in a sense, to the edge of the reservation that has been her fictional world.

New York Times Book Review
[B]eguiling . . . Erdrich takes us farther back in time than she ever has, so far back that she comes, in a sense, to the edge of the reservation that has been her fictional world.

Library Journal
The investigation of art as mainstay and revelation is particularly sharp, and one hopes Erdrich will pursue this line of thought in her next work. Highly recommended.

Reader Reviews

ron sterzinger

Father Damien pray for us
Louise's character Father Damien is probably one of the greatest characters to emerge on the pages of literature since little Oskar Manzerath in Gunter Grass's book the Tin Drum.

Mary Saputo

This totally delightful book has made me sit back and reflect upon the worthiness of my own life. (not nearly over yet) It weaves a tale of a lifetimes. One could not understand the end without the beginning or the middle. So many lifes woven ...   Read More

Kerry Schindler

As a beginning reader, I thought this book was very captivating and interesting.

Lewis Koch

What a superb book, continuing the fine web Erdrich has woven of intertwined lives and families in her previous novels. She makes language sing, and though the song is not always pretty, it is always soulful and wise.

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