Stories, stories, everywhere

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Reading Challenge: A National Book Award Winner

I have a hard time reviewing Good Books. I have no trouble shredding a Bad Book, or weighing the strengths and weaknesses of a Pretty Good Book, or, in my superhero identity as Minority Opinion Girl, encouraging you to consider that maybe a Good Book isn’t very good after all or that a Pretty Good or Bad Book is significantly better than you thought.

But this was a Good Book that actually was good, so what am I supposed to tell you about it? I’m not really breaking the news that Louise Erdrich is a good writer or that The Round House is a good book. It won a National Book Award. I think the word is out.

So, just in case you weren’t already aware, The Round House is really good. It’s timely and topical (set in the 80s, but still sadly too relevant), it’s full of vivid characters, it’s harrowing, it’s funny, it’s enraging, it’s a coming-of-age story, it’s depressing but not pointlessly “gritty,” it’s about brutality and about love, it’s about stories and storytelling. My favorite moments were all story-related: the stories the boys tell each other to make sense of their world, the stories Mooshum tells either awake or asleep (although the Supernatural fan in me couldn’t help thinking “someone really should have told Sam and Dean you can cure a wiindigo with hot soup”). My only complaint is that the book wandered into symbolic territory a little too far for me at the end, but that’s probably just me and my low tolerance for that kind of thing.

Very little to say about this book, except, it’s good. You should probably read it.

Recommended pairing: Oh, so many poor decisions are made regarding alcohol in this book (by 13 year-old boys) I’m tempted to recommend seltzer. But actually, I think something like a Harpoon IPA, a nice, well-rounded beer, would fit a good, well-rounded book.



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