The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
Author: Louise Erdrich
Read by: Louise Erdrich
Short review: A beautifully written historical novel set in Germany and North Dakota between the two World Wars.
Long review: I’ve been an unabashed fan of Erdrich’s since I read her phenomenal first novel Love Medicine: A Novel. Most of her books are set in and among an Ojibwe tribe in North Dakota. This time around, however, she follows the life of Fidelis Waldvogel, a German butcher, singer, and veteran who immigrates to the US to build a life for his family. Delphine Watzka, daughter of the town drunk, becomes enmeshed in the Waldvogel family while trying to sort out her complex relationships with her sodden father and her perplexing Ojibwe partner Cyprian Lazarre. The book explores questions of love, sexual identity, parenthood, duty, loyalty, genealogy, war, friendship, forgiveness . . . all concepts that resurface in Erdrich’s books.
I was particularly intrigued to hear Erdrich read her own work, since I’ve never had the chance to go to one of her live readings. She has a gorgeous sense of language, and her work as a poet has definitely spilled into her novels. I found her narration clear and evocative, but not overly emotional or dramatic. There were a few pauses here and there that were a tad jarring, but overall I was surprised by how well she read. I will gladly listen to more self-narrator works by Erdrich.