Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Reading Life

Delphine's Books

"Delphine was reading and dozing over a thick Book-of-the-Month Club novel she'd got from the little lending library run by some schoolteachers out of the courthouse basement.  The plot was intimate, British, and safely romantic, one of those in which she had confidence she'd not be left for days with heartache.  She had always been a reader, especially since she lost Clarisse.  But now she was obsessed.  Since her discovery of the book hoard downstairs from her job, she'd been caught up in one such collection of people and their doing after the next.  She read Edith Warton, Hemingway, Dos Passos, George Eliot, and for comfort Jane Austen.  

The pleasure of this sort of life---bookish, she supposed it might be called, a reading life---had made her isolation into a rich and subversive thing.  She inhabited one consoling or horrifying persona after another.  She read E. M. Forster, the Bronte sisters, John Steinbeck.  That she kept her father drugged on his bed next to the kitchen stove, that she was childless and husbandless and poor meant less once she picked up a book.  Her mistakes disappeared into it.  She lived with an invented force." (p 301)

from The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich


Brian Joseph said...

Wow! I absolutely love that passage.

James said...


I too was impressed with the passage from this fine novel. Louise Erdrich captures the feeling of the early twentieth century in a small Midwestern town.