Cover image for Shadow tag
Title:
Shadow tag
Author:
Erdrich, Louise.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper, [2010]

©2010
Physical Description:
255 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Chronciles the emotional war between Irene America, a beautiful, introspective woman of Native American ancestry, struggling to finish her dissertation while raising three children, and her husband Gil, a painter whose reputation is built on a series of now iconic portraits of Irene.
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.3 8.0 135794.
ISBN:
9780061536090
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"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 Erdrich's previous acclaimed work.


Author Notes

Karen Louise Erdrich was born on June 7, 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where both of her parents were employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Erdrich graduated from Dartmouth College in 1976 with an AB degree, and she received a Master of Arts in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University in 1979.

Erdrich published a number of poems and short stories from 1978 to 1982. In 1981 she married author and anthropologist Michael Dorris, and together they published The World's Greatest Fisherman, which won the Nelson Algren Award in 1982. In 1984 she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Love Medicine, which is an expansion of a story that she had co-written with Dorris. Love Medicine was also awarded the Virginia McCormick Scully Prize (1984), the Sue Kaufman Prize (1985) and the Los Angeles Times Award for best novel (1985).

In addition to her prose, Erdrich has written several volumes of poetry, a textbook, children's books, and short stories and essays for popular magazines. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for professional excellence, including the National Magazine Fiction Award in 1983 and a first-prize O. Henry Award in 1987. Erdrich has also received the Pushcart Prize in Poetry, the Western Literacy Association Award, the 1999 World Fantasy Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2006. In 2007 she refused to accept an honorary doctorate from the University of North Dakota in protest of its use of the "Fighting Sioux" name and logo.

Erdrich's novel The Round House made the New York Times bestseller list in 2013. Her other New York Times bestsellers include Future Home of the Living God (2017).

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Erdrich steps out of the deep river of her great Native American saga, last manifest in The Plague of Doves (2008), and into a feverish drama of a marriage and household in peril. The intensity of this exquisite, character-driven tale, its searing efficiency in encompassing the painful legacy of the Native American genocide, and its piercing insights into sex, family, and power are breathtaking. Irene America, of Ojibwe descent, hopes to complete her doctorate in history in spite of the demands of her volatile painter husband, Gil, and their three children: sons Florian, a secretive math prodigy, and gentle little Stoney, and daughter Riel, named after Louis Riel, a Metis resistance leader. Irene's subject is the nineteenth-century artist George Catlin, whose portraits of Native Americans raise disturbing questions about exploitation. As do Gil's erotic paintings of Irene, icons of violation born of his maniacal possessiveness, violent rage, and paranoia. Once Irene, who is drinking heavily, realizes that Gil is reading her diary, she begins writing entries calculated to push him to the brink. As their domestic civil war escalates, Irene remembers her mother's stories about how a soul can be captured through a shadow, a vision with profound implications in this masterfully concentrated and gripping novel of image and conquest, autonomy and love, inheritance and loss.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Erdrich's bleak latest (after The Plague of Doves) chronicles the collapse of a family. Irene America is a beautiful, introspective woman of Native American ancestry, struggling to finish her dissertation while raising three children. She is married to Gil, a painter whose reputation is built on a series of now iconic portraits of Irene, but who can't break through to the big time, pigeonholed as a Native American painter. Irene's fallen out of love with Gil and discovers that he's been reading her diary, so she begins a new, hidden, diary and uses her original diary as a tool to manipulate Gil. Erdrich deftly alternates between excerpts from these two diaries and third-person narration as she plots the emotional war between Irene and Gil, and Gil's dark side becomes increasingly apparent as Irene, fighting her own alcoholism, struggles to escape. Erdrich ties her various themes together with an intriguing metaphor-riffing on Native American beliefs about portraits as shadows and shadows as souls-while her steady pacing and remarkable insight into the inner lives of children combine to make this a satisfying and compelling novel. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Irene America is a smart, beautiful Minneapolis Ojibwe. Too distracted to finish her doctoral degree, she musters the emotional resources needed to keep two journals. The "Red Diary" is bait, filled with adulterous scenes that Irene uses to push volatile artist husband Gil close enough to the brink that he'll leave her. She unleashes all her rage and frustration in the "Blue Notebook," which she keeps in a bank deposit box. Meanwhile, Gil believes that his obsessive graphic paintings of Irene will somehow lure her back to him. Caught in the crosshairs of their parents' cruel, messy unraveling are 13-year-old Florian, a genius who models his mother's excessive drinking habits; Riel, 11, who believes that only she can hold her disintegrating family together; and sunny little Stoney. VERDICT 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. 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. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Shadow Tag A Novel November 2, 2007 Blue Notebook I have two diaries now. The first is the hardbound red Daily Reminder of the type I have been writing in since 1994, when we had Florian. You gave me the first book in order to record my beginning year as a mother. It was very sweet of you. I have written in a book like it ever since. They are hidden in the bottom of a drawer in my office, covered with ribbons and wrapping paper. The latest, the one that interests you at present, is kept in the very back of a file cabinet containing old bank statements, checks left over from defunct accounts, the sorts of things we both vow to shred every year but end up stuffing into files. After quite a lot of searching, I expect, you have found my red diary. You have been reading it in order to discover whether I am deceiving you. The second diary, what you might call my real diary, is the one I am writing in now. Today I left the house and drove to the branch of the Wells Fargo Bank that is located in uptown Minneapolis beneath the Sons of Norway Hall. I parked in the customer lot and walked in, through two sets of glass doors, down a spiral staircase, to the safedepositdesk. I tapped a little bell and a woman named Janice appeared. She assisted me in the purchase of a medium-size security box. I paid cash for a year's rental and signed my name, three times for signature verification, on the deposit-box card. I took the key Janice offered. She matched my key to another key and let me into the safe-deposit area. After we slid my box from its place in the wall, she ushered me into one of three private little closets, each containing no more than a desk-height shelf and chair. I closed the door to my private room and removed this blue notebook from the big black leather bag that you gave me for Christmas. Ten or fifteen minutes passed before I could begin. My heart was beating so fast. I couldn't tell if I was experiencing panic, grief, or, possibly, happiness. As soon as the sound of Irene's car motor vanished into the general low din of the city, Gil sat up. The towel he used to shade his eyes slipped off his face. He often lay down on his studio couch when he needed to refresh his eyes, and sometimes dozed off. He could sleep there for as long as an hour, but more often he jerked awake after fifteen minutes, refreshed and startled, as though he'd been dipped in a cool undergroundstream. He sat up patting for his eyeglasses, which he sometimes balanced on his chest. Sure enough, the wire ovals had fallen onto the floor. He retrieved them, hooked them behind his ears. His thick hair started low on his brow and he swept it straight back, smoothed and retied his short, gray ponytail. He stepped up to the painting of his wife and regarded it. His eyes were close-set, cold, curious, and dark. He pressed a knuckle to his chin. His thin cheeks were flecked with yellow paint. He peered at Irene's likeness, then he frowned and looked away, blinking like a person who can't quite make out some figure in the distance. Suddenly he bent over, and added a few tense strokes. He stood back, wrapped his brush in an oiled cloth, then put the brush and palette into a Ziploc bag. He deposited the bag in a small refrigerator. Descending hungrily, he left his studio and went downstairs to the kitchen. He took the one can of Coke he allowed himself per day from the refrigerator. Sipping, he descended the rest of the way and entered his wife's basement office. He went at once to the sand-colored metal file cabinet and opened a drawer labeled Old Accts. November 1, 2007 Red Diary What an odd day this is with the house so empty and Gil upstairs endlessly reworking a painting. I expect he is having trouble asking me to sit for him again. Flo and Stoney are okay now after fever. Riel never gets sick, but she is having a difficult time at school this year. Stoney is making a board game for some afterschool project that involves the habits of black bears. Very Minnesota. I think I'm going to lose my mind over what I'm doing. He actually thought he could feel the blood drain from his heart when he read those words. I think I'm going to lose my mind over what I'm doing. He put his head down on the cool oak of Irene's desk, but then thought, as he always did when he came across some hidden reference to the other man, what the hell did I expect? I let myself in for this. I looked for this. He tried to discipline his reaction, and forced himself to consider other explanations: she could be referring to her history thesis. Or that old article on Louis Riel. Before the children, she had published several pieces that were considered brilliant; she was a very promising scholar. Her work had included new material that shed light on Riel's mental states. She'd kept working after Florian was born. But after she became pregnant again, she had abandoned her workâ€"except that she'd named their daughter after the depressed Metis patriot, a man to whom his own family was distantly related. Riel was eleven. And now that Stoney was in first grade, Irene was trying to finish her Ph.D. thesis, so that she could start looking for a job. Her subject was now the nineteenth-century painter of Native Americana George Catlin. Perhaps she was suffering from academic frustration? Losing her mindâ€"over George Catlin's clumsy, repetitive, earnest depictions of peopleâ€"all of whom would sicken and die soon after. Gil himself could not bear to look at Catlin's work. The tragic irony of it offended him. And for Irene, a poor excuse.... Shadow Tag A Novel . Copyright © by Louise Erdrich . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.