Indie Next ListFebruary 2010
Knowing her unstable husband has been reading her diary, a desperate woman uses it to manipulate him, creating a false tale, obscuring her true motives, and pushing him ever-closer to the edge. Shadow Tag is Erdrich's most compelling novel in years; a gripping portrait of an unstable marriage stumbling towards its inevitable, yet shocking dissolution. -- Rich Rennicks, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC
"Here is the most telling fact: you wish to possess me.
Here is another fact: I loved you and let you think you could."
When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diaryhidden where Gil will find itinto a manipulative farce. Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, Shadow Tag is an eerily gripping read.
When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the nineteenth-century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wifework that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shockingrealizes that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career.
Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, at the beginning of the end.
As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies. In brilliantly controlled prose, Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption.
About the Author
Louise Erdrich lives with her family in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. Ms. Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and this storywhich will, in the end, span one hundred years in the life of an Ojibwe womanwas inspired when Ms. Erdrich and her mother, Rita Gourneau Erdrich, were researching their own family history. Chickadee begins a new part of the story that started with The Birchbark House, a National Book Award finalist; The Game of Silence, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; and the acclaimed The Porcupine Year.
Ms. Erdrich is also the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels for adults, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves and National Book Award finalist The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She is also the author of the picture book Grandmother's Pigeon, illustrated by Jim LaMarche.
Praise for Shadow Tag LP…
“A portrait of an ‘iconic’ marriage on its way to dissolution…Erdrich’s unbridled urgency yields startlingly original phrasing as well as flashes of blinding lucidity.”
-New York Times Book Review
“Gripping…a hushed and haunting tale that chillingly and convincingly reflects the upper-middle-class American experience, not only the Native American one.”
“ A fierce novel…raw…alive…vividly present…it marks a breakthrough for the author.”
“Read this if: You’re looking for a well-written, well-told tale that is thought- and discussion- provoking.”
“A page-turner…a most compelling novel”
-Dallas Morning News
“SHADOW TAG is hard to put down...It builds to a spectacular ending with a twist I didn’t see coming...Erdrich has taken a tragedy and turned it into art.”
“A domestic drama that builds an almost thriller-like momentum…A novel as dark and tragic as it is difficult to put down”
-San Diego Union-Tribune
Clear, urgent, deep as a swift river…accomplishes the literary miracle of making a reader ravenous to finish it, while stinging with regret at how soon it must end.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“SHADOW TAG is compelling…a searing, personal examination of one family that’s falling apart.”
“An exquisite, character-driven tale…its piercing insights into sex, family, and power are breathtaking…A masterfully concentrated and gripping novel of image and conquest, autonomy and love, inheritance and loss.”
-Donna Seaman, Booklist
“Muscular and fearless…It is [Erdrich’s] superb telling of this story that makes it real, her stellar writing that brings powerful truth to invented worlds.”
“Erdrich offers a portrait that’s convincing…Shadow Tag is wonderfully, painfully readable and revealing.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A fast-paced novel of exceptional artistic, intellectual, and psychological merit…Nowhere have love’s complications been better illustrated than in the raw honesty of Shadow Tag.”
-Boston Sunday Globe
“A masterpiece…a captivating work of fiction…exquisite…tightly focused…arresting…This profoundly tragic novel captures that lament in some of Erdrich’s most beautiful and urgent writing.”
-Ron Charles, Washington Post
“A brilliant cautionary tale…Reading it is like watching a wildfire whose flames are so mesmerizingly beautiful that it’s almost easy to ignore the deadly mess left behind.”
“Into this deeply personal novel about marriage, family and individual identity, Erdrich weaves broader questions about cause and effect in history...A small masterpiece of compelling, painfully moving fiction.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)