Shadow Tag (LargePrint Paperback)
|Author: Louise Erdrich|
|"Here is the most telling fact: you wish to possess me.
Here is another fact: I loved you and let you think you could."
When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary—hidden where Gil will find it—into a manipulative farce. Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, Shadow Tag is an eerily gripping read.
When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the nineteenth-century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife—work that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shocking—realizes that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career.
Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, at the beginning of the end.
As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies. In brilliantly controlled prose, Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption.
From the Publisher:
After she discovers that her husband has been reading her diary, Irene America turns it into a manipulative farce, while secretly keeping a second diary that includes her true thoughts, through which the reader learns of Irene's shaky marriage, its affect on her children and her struggles with alcohol. (General fiction). Simultaneous.After she discovers that her husband has been reading her diary, Irene America turns it into a manipulative farce, while secretly keeping a second diary that includes her true thoughts about her shaky marriage, its affect on her children, and her struggles with alcohol.
The novel's title comes from the Native American game of "shadow tag," in which two players attempt to stomp on each other's shadow and, it was believed, their soul. This game becomes an apt metaphor for the deeply dysfunctional marriage between Irene America and her husband Gil, both of Native American descent, who engage in a vicious power struggle that plays out on psychological, supernatural, and metaphorical levels--their emotional savagery, physical violence, and alcoholic hate all witnessed at close range by their three children. The concept that the soul can be stolen through an image plays an important role in this chilling and lyric Gothic tale: Gil is a successful painter who has made his reputation with a series of highly revealing portraits of Irene, while Irene is working on a dissertation about an Native American painter whose subjects died after being painted. Set against the frozen backdrop of a Minnesota winter, Louise Erdrich (THE PLAGUE OF DOVES) has crafted a disturbing tale of domestic war whose duplicitous main characters are as mesmerizing as they are unsympathetic. Selected by the New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of 2010.