#CBR7 Review #10: The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

I read Love Medicine on a plane trip two years ago and thought it was excellent, especially the writing.

[Sidenote: I’ve learned to bring all my femme lit on the airplane, because then men don’t talk to me. Case in point: on a connecting flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis, I had a three-hour layover, and I pulled out Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. No one approached me. I read the entire time. IT WAS AWESOME.]

I’ve been meaning to read more of Erdrich’s books, so I thought Plague of Doves might provide me with an interesting contrast. There is definitely an…arresting…chapter that taps into my psyche in very disturbing ways. We’ll get to that in a minute.

The story is split up into several viewpoints: Evelina Harp, an ambitious and bright young woman who sees a future outside her reservation town and collects the stories of her grandfather; Judge Antone Brazil Coutts, who becomes complicit in a series of family dramas; John Wildstrand, who commits a crime to cover another crime; Marn Wolde, who marries a charismatic cult leader and tries to regain her sense of agency and her family’s land; and Dr. Cordelia Lochren, a mysterious figure from the past. The stories weave an unsettling and memorable history of several families in the town of Pluto, both from past and present.

Let’s talk about the part that unseated me, shall we? Marn Wolde’s section was FULL OF SNAKES. I just shivered typing that. Every time I see/hear/read about a snake, I go full on Michael Scott meltdown. Like when Marn talks about her serpents (not a euphemism) curling up in her armpits.

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Gross. I may or may not have thrown up in my mouth just recounting that horrifying moment. I mean, I really hate snakes. It’s a shame that they formed such a huge part of Marn’s narrative arc, too, because she fascinated me as a character. Maybe now that I’ve read it, I’ll have to revisit the interesting parts. I raced through that section incredibly fast, because, like Samuel L. Jackson, I’d had enough of the snakes.

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Samuel, you and I are in complete agreement on this.

 

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