November, 2019: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

(Book 115) In October, I noted that Geek Love had appeared as one of our choices before and was narrowly outvoted. Love Medicine had also appeared in the same round of voting (A Literary Map of the United States) as a book that represented North Dakota, so it was our second book to be reconsidered and chosen. Rosalie hosted the event and this was the first line of her invitation: “I can’t promise you fry bread and canned ham but can you make it to the res on Tuesday, November 19?” Following is the email of the meeting summary with the Subject: Migwetch.

I believe Migwetch is the correct Ojibwe word for Thank You! If, alternatively, I’ve said “Look at that tree over there” — forgive me and accept my gratitude for a lovely evening which I was sorry to have cut short.
We all enjoyed the cheese, crackers and salmon appetizers while we drank our wine and had one of our longest-ever book discussions. Though not all of us had quite finished the book, it seemed that it was generally appreciated for its lovely prose. Rosalie was not a particular fan of the characters that (first-) peopled the book, but Geri recognized some as family members. Geri read a few of her favorite quotes — two that were particularly gripping were:
“Her face was vivid, carved on thin bones, and she had withered powerfully, evaporated into the shape of her own opinions.”
“Even though she was more trouble to me than any child I ever had, I took care of the old woman every day of her life. Because we shared the loneliness that was one shape. Because I knew that in her old age, she shared the same boat, where I had labored. She crested and sank in dark waves. Those waves were taking her onward, through night, through day, the water beating and slashing across her unknown path. She struggled to continue. She was traveling hard and death was her light.”
I read many passages mostly pertaining to my favorite character Lulu and I will be from here on using one of her phrases “not in the factual sense” whenever called upon to explain the vagaries of my existence. Chris and I marveled at the writing in the chapter titled “Crown of Thorns” and some expressed appreciation for the chapter title itself. I provided Susan with a warning that there is an unfortunate situation with a deer, so that she can properly prepare herself. Sharon enjoyed the book but suggested another book with Native American characters. There There by Tommy Orange as being a better read. I agreed that There There is a wonderful read, though I would not say better, so much as a bit lighter in tone.
Rosalie identified with the moment when Marie reads the note that Nector wrote to say he was leaving her for Lulu and she responds by scrubbing the linoleum and peeling every potato in the house. Rosalie told us that after telling her husband and children that she was leaving him and moving out, she went to the kitchen and made a pot roast dinner. “I was leaving forever, but not before making them dinner!”
There were many more things I would have like to have discussed so I’m going to bring them up here:
p.169 What was the trick? With the glasses and the knives? I’ve got a great bar trick that involves three matches and an ashtray — just ask me to show it to you.
p.192 The cleverly mundane “It was only natural then, I guess, that she would pull the barstool out from under me and threaten my life.” We’ve all been there.
p. 232 Lipsha’s take on God’s faculties: “I sweat. I broke right into a little cold sweat at my hairline because I knew this was perfectly right and for years not one damn other person had noticed it. God’s been going deaf. Since the Old Testament. God’s been deafening up on us. I read see. Besides the dictionary, which I’m constantly in use of, I had this Bible once. I read it. I found there was discrepancies between then and now. It struck me. Here God used to raineth bread from clouds, smite the Phillipines (another malapropism I hadn’t noticed the first time), sling fire down on red-light districts where people got stabbed. He even appeared in person once in a while. God used to pay attention is what I’m saying.”
p. 262 “My socks are too tight!” What a great complaint from Gordie when in need of a drink. Particularly because, as Marie points out, he isn’t wearing socks. There should be a list somewhere of bizarre kid complaints to their mothers — I would add Frances’ “This road is too bumpy for me to sing.”
I could go on, but I have to get to the meal. The meal was a delicious pork stew with olives and fennel, a recipe that Rosalie found in a stack she’d cut from magazines. She served it with whole green beans, a green salad and bread. This is how I imagined it being prepared:
(another quote about Lulu) “Lulu was bustling about the kitchen in a calm, automatic frenzy. She seemed to fill pots with food by pointing at them and take things from the oven that she’d never put in. The table jumped to set itself.”
My dessert was gone too quickly to be certain of what it was, but I’m going to guess it was a warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.

I was asked to record some things mentioned during the discussion:
Jolabokaflod — the Icelandic tradition of giving books and chocolate on Christmas Eve and snuggling in to read them.
Other books: Sharon mentioned that she read Ann Patchett’s new The Dutch House but did not like it, she did enjoy The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
Chris mentioned that a friend recommended Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson.
Before she allowed us to leave. Rosalie asked us all to take a book (or two, three or four) to clean out her shelves to lighten her load and make room for her next life!
We will be meeting at Linda’s for our Christmas cookie exchange and discussion of Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Tuesday, December 17. To prevent duplication. let’s reply to this email with the name/description of the five dozen cookies you intend to share.

Baamaapii, (Until later, or possibly, She is many arrows short of a quiver)

And if you could also take this one-question survey:
Regarding the number of times that Geri was mentioned in this summary,

  1. I thought it was woefully lacking in reference to the scintillating contributions Geri provides our meetings.
  2. I thought it was just about right, like Baby Bear’s chair and porridge.
  3. I thought if I had to read her stupid name one more time, I would surely explode!
    Thank you for your time.