Tales of Burning Love

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

TALES OF BURNING LOVE, like LOVE MEDICINE, begins with June Kashpah’s death during a 1981 North Dakota blizzard. The man who married her in a questionable ceremony and then drunkenly let her walk into the blizzard was Jack Mauser. For fourteen years, this incident haunts Jack. He becomes a leading contractor in Fargo, but this success is built upon concealment of growing debt and his Chippewa heritage. When his fifth marriage and his business collapse, Jack and his four living wives are pushed to reorder their lives.

This story takes place mainly off the Chippewa reservation in the materialistic white world of Fargo; but this world proves to be much like the Chippewa world of the other novels. It is filled with miracles that point to trickster powers who teach through absurdity and suffering. Most characters seem blind to such forces until pushed to extremes of suffering. Then they experience humorous visions that are healing and painful. Jack’s second wife, Eleanor, visits with the recently dead Sister Leopolda while rolling across drifts in a blizzard wind. Jack finds forgiveness when a statue of Our Lady of the Wheat falls upon him.

TALES OF BURNING LOVE shares with the other North Dakota novels the conviction that the universe does not reveal how to love, but still requires truthful and faithful love; the only alternative to burning love is freezing death. The stories are new, however, rich in character and situation. This novel is a worthy continuation of the series.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XCII, March 1, 1996, p. 1075.

Chicago Tribune. April 21, 1996, XIV, p. 1.

Library Journal. CXXI, April 15, 1996, p. 121.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 16, 1996, p. 3.

National Catholic Reporter. May 24, 1996, p. 21.

The New York Times Book Review. CI, May 12, 1996, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIII, February 19, 1996, p. 202.

The Virginia Quarterly Review. LXXII, Autumn, 1996, p. 131.

The Wall Street Journal. April 24, 1996, p. A12.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVI, April 21, 1996, p. 3.