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The Round House: A Novel | [Louise Erdrich]

The Round House: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1049 )
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  •  
    Christine La Jolla, CA, United States 01-03-13
    Christine La Jolla, CA, United States 01-03-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Incredibly BAD narration!!"
    What didn’t you like about Gary Farmer’s performance?

    I can't believe an actor could deliver such a bad reading. Previous readers' reviews gave ample warning but I thought it couldn't be that bad. IT IS THAT BAD! Pass this one or read the hard copy.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan S. Kemp Omaha, NE United States 11-29-12
    Jonathan S. Kemp Omaha, NE United States 11-29-12
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    "Decent story hurt by poor narration"
    What didn’t you like about Gary Farmer’s performance?

    Choppy, hard to understand, and a total lack of rhythm. His performance really hurt the overall story.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Interesting, clever plot with a window into injustice inflicted upon a modern Native American community.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michal Scotsdale, AZ, United States 01-17-13
    Michal Scotsdale, AZ, United States 01-17-13 Member Since 2009

    I live in Scottsdale, Arizona. I have 5 grown children, play ukuele exercise, and read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved the narrator."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Round House to be better than the print version?

    Absolutely, because the reader's accent really added to the overall understanding and feeling of the book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Round House?

    When the mother described what happened.


    Which character – as performed by Gary Farmer – was your favorite?

    Joe


    Who was the most memorable character of The Round House and why?

    Joe


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent book about family, love, growth. The audible version exceeded my expectations.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy H Clark Siler City, NC, US 12-06-12
    Nancy H Clark Siler City, NC, US 12-06-12 Member Since 2010
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    "A fine book ruined"

    I respect and admire Erdrich's award-winning novel. But the narration was the worst I have ever experienced in at least eight years of listening to audiobooks. The point of view of a young man was spoken by someone who sounded like a 50-year-old with the reading abilities of a fifth grader. I am aware that the narrator is Native American, but that political correctness does not justify a listening experience that was not just painful, but destroyed the drama and the emotion that I'm sure the book delivers.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer louisburg, n.c., United States 11-19-12
    Amazon Customer louisburg, n.c., United States 11-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointed!"
    Would you try another book from Louise Erdrich and/or Gary Farmer?

    After all the great reviews I guess I expected more. Much more. Story to me was just ok. Narration was WOEFUL!!!!!


    Would you recommend The Round House to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. Wouldn't want someone to waste their doe.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Oh come on. Did you listen to the same performance I did? That was bad.


    Was The Round House worth the listening time?

    No


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-24-14
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-24-14 Member Since 2007

    Chet Yarbrough, an audio book addict, exercises two cocker spaniels twice a day with an Ipod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears. Hope these few reviews seduce the public into a similar obsession but walk safely and be aware of the unaware.

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    "RAPE"

    Louise Erdrich, the author of “The Round House” grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota. Erdrich’s parents, a Chippewa mother and German father, taught at the “Bureau of Indian Affairs” in Wahpeton. She is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and her husband was the director of “Native American Studies” at Dartmouth.

    Though not an essential element of the story, Gary Dale Farmer is the narrator of “The Round House; he was born into the Cayuga nation, an Iroquois Confederacy.

    This brief explanation of author and narrator gives context and authority to a significant cultural quality of “The Round House” which is a story about a rape but, more broadly, about life on an Indian reservation. The story symbolizes lives of poverty, cultural isolation, and discrimination that are amplified by an unjust American legal system.

    History shows that isolation of a minority is inherently discriminatory; i.e. Brown vs. Board of Education is a legal proof of that belief. Jews in ghettos, Palestinians in the nation of Israel, Blacks and Hispanics in America, and other minorities wishing, wanting to retain their own identity, naturally, expect to be allowed to equally participate in their homelands’ prosperity. However, isolation of a minority mitigates against equal opportunity for all. “The Round House” shows how Reservation’ isolation leads a 13-year-old boy to consider murdering another human being because he sees no justice for his mother, the victim of a brutal rape.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Len Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada 05-16-13
    Len Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada 05-16-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Narration horrible"
    Would you listen to The Round House again? Why?

    Seriously, I want my money back. I found the narration just impossible to listen to. Definitely try a sample before you purchase this.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelley Clifton, VA, United States 05-11-13
    Shelley Clifton, VA, United States 05-11-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Excellent book, deserved a narration rehearsal"

    Louise Erdrich is a national treasure, and The Round House is no exception to her collection of tremendously compelling novels. Patternings of light and dark, historical and present-day stories, young characters and elders, interweave to carry the reader/listener along to powerful conclusions.

    And I generally love Gary Farmer. He's a tremendous actor, and here when he's reading something that's more like a film scene, he's fabulous. I love the drawl and the cadence, and I can't imagine anyone reading four skinny-dipping insult-trading Native boys any better, anywhere. But one significant joy of Erdrich's writing is what she does with prose sentences, well-crafted lines of text that wind around like a growing vine until they reveal some vivid flower at the end and leave you breathless. On too many of these, Farmer stumbles or flat out trips, reading right past really crucial commas or inserting full take-a-breath stops between subjects and verbs. It's as if he was too busy or too expensive for Harper Audio to pay for him to rehearse or re-record anything, and so he had to read the whole novel cold, and kept getting caught every time his teleprompter was too slow or his attention drifted just a little.

    If that kind of narrator-error bugs you, then you have to decide whether the trade-off is worth it: the joy of being really immersed when Farmer is hitting his stride, in a way you can't be if you're trying to do the voices in your own head with a print book, vs. the frustration of being pulled out of the story-world when the errors (maybe one every 10 minutes or so?) catch at your brain. For me, it was worth it, but maybe not by a whole lot.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 02-11-13
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 02-11-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Likeable enough"

    A 80's Brighton Beach Memoirs on the reservation. The Round House seemed as if Brighton Beach Memoirs was used as this books blueprint. The author took it across country and in an effort to advance it 50 years added drugs, guns and violence.

    Such is the way of the world.

    The tribal lore and the ways of life on the reservation were interesting. I even enjoyed Gary Farmer's authentic reading. It was the reoccurring unbelievable major events that haunted me throughout and took away from the story.

    What I most had difficulties with is the lack of medical care the mother once she came home from the hospital. Days and days went by where I kept screaming, "Get the poor woman some medical attention PLEASE!" It was hard to listen to it go on for a month or better. You cannot tell me that an educated man would buy a new clock before taken his emaciated troubled wife to a doctor.

    Once unbelievably starts in a book, then you start questioning everything and the story gets sidetracked.. So the author wants me now to believe at none of the half a dozen or so banks this floozy drags an unrelated teenager into, with tens of thousands of cash, no one investigates...make her show proof of origin, call the IRS? Then within a month all but one of the accounts is drained of over two hundred thousand and banking officials aren't investigating money laundering? In 1988 there is no way that would happen. Not to mention that the author mentions many times the lack of groceries but, wants us to believe that 12 different banks are within reach.

    Yes, they are silly little things but, when the reader can't see it happening - it can't be visualized.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Jones Southern United States 01-18-13
    S. Jones Southern United States 01-18-13 Member Since 2001

    Nerd, cook, and avid audiobook reader

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    "Narration was so poor I could not finish"
    Would you try another book from Louise Erdrich and/or Gary Farmer?

    I would probably try another book from this author. I purchased the Kindle book with the Audible book (I love whispersync!) and I intend to finish the Kindle version (will probably start over), but I would not try another book read by Gary Farmer. I believe this was the most poorly narrated book I have every purchased from Audible in the 12 years I've been a member.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I haven't gotten far enough along in the story to say, but I am intrigued by the characters and premise, which makes me want to read the Kindle version (well.. also because I've already purchased it).


    What didn’t you like about Gary Farmer’s performance?

    It seemed that the narrator had never read aloud before, or as if he was unfamiliar with the English language. He would read a line and pause, then continue with the next line, pause, etc. There was no flow at all and it was extremely difficult to listen to. I have 450 books in my audible library, some of which I've listened to multiple times. I barely made it into Chapter 4 of this book.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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