Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Louise Erdrich’s smooth-flowing narrative makes for deceptively easy reading. The story can be read on several different levels. On its most basic level, it is a pleasant story of a daughter doing her duty by an aging parent whom she loves and respects. On a deeper level, it is a commentary on to what one owes one’s existence and what one makes of it. On yet another level, it speaks of the moments of decision in each person’s life, and the ways in which one uses these moments to change the courses of one’s own and others’ lives.

Such multiple-depth interpretation is typical of short stories in general, but the simplicity of Erdrich’s prose makes her story both more accessible and more obscure. The cleanness of language and vivid beauty of her images make the deeper meanings easier to understand once they are perceived, but the romantic voice relating the tale belies the more profound messages.

Similarly, the repetitive use of key words such as “preparation” and “anticipation” makes her themes easy to follow, but her matter-of-fact storytelling seems to imply a naïveté that is not the case. The addition of prosaic detail and conjecture on the events being told lends credence to the fantastic.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Bruchac, Joseph. “Whatever Is Really Yours: An Interview with Louise Erdrich.” In Survival This Way: Interviews with American Indian Poets. Tucson: Sun Tracks and University of Arizona Press, 1987.

Coltelli, Laura. “Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris.” In Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.

Erdrich, Louise. “Where I Ought to Be: A Writer’s Sense of Place.” The New York Times Book Review 91 (July 28, 1985): 1, 23-24.

Erdrich, Louise. “The Writing Life: How a Writer’s Study Became a Thing with Feathers.” The Washington Post Book World, February 15, 2004, 13.

Hafen, P. Jane. Reading Louise Erdrich’s “Love Medicine.” Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 2003.

Meadows, Susannah. “North Dakota Rhapsody.” Newsweek 141, no. 8 (2003): 54.

Rifkind, Donna. “Natural Woman.” The Washington Post Book World, September 4, 2005, 5.

Sarris, Greg, et al., eds. Approaches to Teaching the Works of Louise Erdrich. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2004.

Stookey, Loreena Laura. Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999.