National Book Award, Fiction, 2012
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and 13-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.
©2012 Louise Erdrich (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
It's most definitely a 4 out of 5 stars. At first, honestly, I was thinking 3 - the narrator's voice was flat, but it began to work with the story. The voice sounded Native American (I know - however that is "supposed" to sound).
As a coming-of-age novel, it compares to lots of novels - from Great Expectations to Catcher in the Rye, but given that it happens on a Native American reservation, it is a whole different experience.
Probably not and definitely not.
I do not think the story was very well told, and it was definitely not well narrated. It may be that Mr. Farmer's garbled speech was an impediment to Ms. Erdrich's story telling. At the time of the big reveal of who the perpetrator of the terrible crime was, I thought, "Wait, what? He did it? How did they figure that out?"
I've read quite a few mysteries and all of them were better than this one. The characters were interesting enough, but the story telling was poor.
Almost anyone. Will Patton, Craig Wasson, Dick Hill, Campbell Scott.
I didn't hate it, but I would have a hard time recommending it to anyone.
Cappy - Joe's best friend. He loves his friend Joe and is loyal to him through all there antics. He is also funny and you like the character immediately.
He brought each character to life, giving each one a voice and character.
Boomer-type who loves science, especially physics and cosmology.
I'd buy another Erdrich book, but not if Farmer narrated it.
This story is about the effects of a violent crime on the coming of age of a teenage boy. It is woven in an interesting way with little bits of insight on how laws governing native Americans have been manipulated to rob them of their wealth, dignity, and self reliance. However, the narrator- chosen I think because he is native American- really detracted from the story. He read the first chapter so slowly that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stand listening to the book at all. Someone must have pointed this out to him because he sped up the reading in subsequent chapters. He also had an irritating habit of pausing so that descriptive clauses sounded like they were part of the next sentence, e.g. "She made us a lunch of sandwiches, pickles, and fry bread. Wrapped to absorb the grease, which I put into my bag." (Not an actual sentence from the book, but meant to illustrate the odd pauses). I was relieved to finish the book just to be done with the awful narration. Overall I thought the story was good, but I'd wished I'd read it instead of listened to it.
The story was compelling
The main character was appealing to me
I am familiar with the fact that Native American cadence can be different than non Native American. The problem with Gary Farmer's narration for me was that his performance rendered the story unintelligible. The long, poorly placed pauses and curious rushes of his speech serve to make each sentence very difficult to follow. I do not know what went on in that recording studio, but it would seem that Farmer was reading the story cold, for the first time, with no preparation whatsoever. The editing and sound is extremely poor as well. There are break points in the middle of a chapter - in the middle of a paragraph - where Farmer's voice changes so much I replayed it over and over to discern if a new person was reading. I love audio books, but a good reader, sound studio and editor are essential to the end product and this book is going down 0 for 3. I would love to see this book re-recorded.
Louise Erdrich's writing is so exquisite--and so pared-down and simple you're not even conscious of how good it is when you're in it. Because you're just so...in it. How she's able to boil down the angst of human experience into such effortless, casual prose is one mystery, but there's also the actual story, which is its own mystery/suspense story.
I didn't research Gary Farmer but he sounds like an authentic native American--if not an Ojibwe. In any case, his reading is spot-on, and I felt like he captured Erdrich's voice (channeled through a 13 year old boy) perfectly. (There are some very minor editing glitches; nothing distracting though).
I can't imagine who wouldn't be mesmerized by this story from the start, regardless of age or reading tastes...highly recommend!
Every page! I had read the book, but wanted to give a try and listen. The narration really added a powerful dimension. I was so pleased.
Louise Erdrich speaks these powerful truths of Life. Not always simple, but profound and moving! Life is not black and white and this story illustrates that precisely. Thank you Louise!
I've listened to Louise Erdich's other books and I think they're not bad; however, I think the book was very poorly read and I will avoid books in the future that are read by this narrator.
Probably. There are a lot of layers to this story that made me think.
The book was a lot like Angela's Ashes for me. It had both deep tragedy and light hearted moments - often layered on top of each other,
He sounds native American; so it is as if the man the boy became is telling you the story.
Both. Sometimes one right after the other.
I would recommend this book and have to several people. It was not what i expected - the story was more nuanced and interesting than I anticipated.
I couldn't help but think of the coming of age film Stand By Me while listening to this book. Despite the brutal assault and its aftermath interweaving through the story, I didn't feel this book was too noir or dark - if you're worried you can't handle the subject matter, I'd say try taking it on. The Round House documents the growth of a young man on a reservation, at a pivotal time in his adolescence, as he begins to understand racisms and 'Indian'isms and all sorts of things about the world. I loved Erdrich's writing - it was easy to get lost in - clear and true to its source but not overly verbose. This is a big story, and it contains tales within, so if you are looking for a quick read this may not be the best book for you. I can also see how the narrator might be off-putting, I would listen to a sample before purchasing. I loved his voice and style of narration, found it very refreshing, and thought it went perfectly with the story.
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