Author: Lise Erdrich
Publisher: Coffee House Press (2008)
What does it mean to be a “fully processed” Indian in America today? In Night Train, Lise Erdrich offers a sharp-humored and powerful primer. Largely set in the small towns and reservations of northwestern Minnesota and western North Dakota, her literary snapshots capture the characters’ lives playing out against a backdrop of emergency rooms, supermarket aisles, backwoods parties, family breakfast tables, booze-soaked taverns, and sterile, but emotionally fraught offices.
Taken at the very moment when the pressures of daily life collide with the insidiousness of history, these stories reveal the personal struggle and small triumphs of people facing the absurdities of bureaucracy, cycles of poverty and addiction, and out-sized notions of Indian legends and culture.
It takes love, fortitude, and no small amount of humor to survive the sun-starved winters of the Great Plains, where finding reasons to keep going (and keep growing) can be the most profound accomplishment. Erdrich’s flashbulb-quick stories provide it all in cathartic doses and within the many voices of her tales, all the crazy starts to make sense.