I finished reading Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich last Friday. It’s impact was so great I didn’t even try to read anything the entire weekend. I didn’t want to spoil the entire experience by accidentally reading something that did not rise to the same level.
Shadow Tag functions on so many levels; one’s mind plays its own version of shadow tag between them. There’s the main story of Irene American, a PhD candidate, and her husband, Gil, a celebrated painter who is most famous for his portraits of Irene in provocative poses and their manipulative mind games. Then there’s the story of their children straddling the white world and the native world and their games of survival. Behind it all is the subject of Irene’s dissertation, photographer George Catlin, who played his own manipulative mind games with light and shadow with the Native American populations of the 19th century. The interplay of these games leave the reader to decide who is the ultimate winner. Louise Erdrich has finely crafted, or better said, artistically woven these into an excellent work which perhaps leaves the reader as the true winner.
This novel will likely be one the great pieces of literature from our era. It’s one of the best I’ve read in some time and it’s certainly the best I’ve read of this author.