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Shadow Tagby Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag is a disturbing, heartbreaking, and mesmerizing portrait of a troubled and intense marriage. Irene and Gil are depicted with psychological nuance and in gorgeous detail; it is impossible not to feel deeply about these characters and their world.
"Shadow Tag's form and content make for disturbing polarities: Erdrich imposes her exquisite mastery of language, imagery and literary form upon the raw and brutal chaos of mental illness, alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Unlike the rich orchestrations of much of her previous fiction, with its expansive explorations of history, storytelling and social communities, Shadow Tag is chamber music in a minor key: two parents and three children, a family in free fall over the course of one Minnesota winter." Diana Postlethwaite, Ms. Magazine (Read the entire Ms. Magazine review)
Synopses & Reviews
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, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary — hidden where Gil will find it — into 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 — realizes 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 unraveling 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 kindergartner Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, 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.
"Erdrich is a true original... [and] one of our major writers." Washington Post Book World
"Erdrich offers a portrait that's convincing...Shadow Tag is wonderfully, painfully readable and revealing." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A masterpiece...a captivating work of fiction...Shadow Tag is a devastating portrayal of the circular insanity of romantic obsession...captures that lament in some of Erdrich's most beautiful and urgent writing." Ron Charles, Washington Post
"A brilliant cautionary tale...Reading it is like watching a wildfire whose flames are so mesmerizingly beautiful that it's almost easy to ignore the deadly mess left behind." Library Journal
"A fast-paced novel of exceptional artistic, intellectual, and psychological merit...Nowhere have love's complications been better illustrated than in the raw honesty of Shadow Tag." Boston Sunday Globe
When Irene America discovers that her husband 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 is a farce. Alternating between these two records, Shadow Tag is an eerily gripping novel.
“Erdrich is a true original… [and] one of our major writers.” —Washington Post Book World
Shadow Tag, the brilliant new novel by Louise Erdrich, is a stunning tour-de-force from the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of Love Medicine and Pulitzer-Prize-finalist The Plague of Doves. In the vein of the novels of such contemporaries as Zoe Heller and Susan Minot, Shadow Tag is an intense and heart-wrenching story of a troubled marriage and a family in disarray—and a radical departure from Erdrichs previous acclaimed work.
About the Author
Louise Erdrich is the author of thirteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. ...The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.
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