By David Stirrup
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Extra resources for Louise Erdrich
Her works are published, not oral, performances, and her audience encounters her stories as new experiences, not as the frequently repeated myths of their culture. (1998: 190–191). The unsustainability of claims like Jacobs’s – which become, most importantly, an unjustifiable burden on the Native author13 – increases 5429T LOUISE ERDRICH-PT/rev/lb_Demy 24/08/2010 13:07 Page 25 Authorship and authority 1111 2 3 4 5111 6 7 8 9 10111 11 2 3111 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40111 25 their problematic nature, advancing a theoretical strategy rooted in the epistemological traditions of a tribal people, but also implicitly promoting a sense of precolonial culture trammelled by, but reclaimed from the clutches of, colonisation; it teeters, treacherously, on the brink of the anti-modern.
May be found in what I think of as a kind of frontier zone, which elsewhere I have referred to as “always unstable, multidirectional, hybridized, characterized by heteroglossia, and indeterminate” ’ (2001: 11). That question of strategic location recurs in many senses throughout the critical archive: in Cook-Lynn’s accusations of the inadequacies of Erdrich’s sense of place (1993); or, in opposition, Hafen’s sense of Erdrich’s emplacement (2001a); in the various postcolonial paradigms brought to bear on Erdrich’s characters, such as hybridity and colonial mimicry; in the narrative analyses of Erdrich’s work as postmodern, carnivalesque, tribal, feminist, and so on; and in the more general commentary on where Erdrich – and by implication writing by other mixed-blood writers – belongs.
There is an out-of-placeness about him. While Theresa goes to bars to be fawned over by men, Grandpa ‘walks from Saint Ann’s, limp and crazy’. There is a further juxtaposition in the poem between the way Grandpa is described and the third and final character, Uncle Ray, a drunk, ‘looking up/dark tunnels’ of the sleeves of the nuns who, presumably, raised him. While Theresa retains her earthy vitality (‘She smells/like a hayfield, drifting pollen/of birch trees’) and Grandpa, going homeward from the Bingo, clearly inhabits a world that is outside the sight or experience of those around him, Ray occupies a familiar space, disturbing only for the fact that it no longer disturbs: 5429T LOUISE ERDRICH-PT/rev/lb_Demy 24/08/2010 13:07 Page 41 Towards a geocultural poetics 1111 2 3 4 5111 6 7 8 9 10111 11 2 3111 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40111 41 The latch is the small hook and eye of religion.
Louise Erdrich by David Stirrup