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Shadow Tag: A Novel Hardcover – 15 Feb 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins USA; First Edition edition (15 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061536091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061536090
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,964,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“Gripping…a hushed and haunting tale.” (USA Today)

“A portrait of an ‘iconic’ marriage on its way to dissolution…Erdrich’s unbridled urgency yields startlingly original phrasing as well as flashes of blinding lucidity.” (New York Times Book Review)

“ A fierce novel…raw…alive…vividly present…it marks a breakthrough for the author.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“Read this if: You’re looking for a well-written, well-told tale that is thought- and discussion- provoking.” (Baltimore Sun)

“A page-turner…a most compelling novel” (Dallas Morning News)

“SHADOW TAG is hard to put down...It builds to a spectacular ending with a twist I didn’t see coming...Erdrich has taken a tragedy and turned it into art.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“A domestic drama that builds an almost thriller-like momentum…A novel as dark and tragic as it is difficult to put down” (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Clear, urgent, deep as a swift river…accomplishes the literary miracle of making a reader ravenous to finish it, while stinging with regret at how soon it must end.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“SHADOW TAG is compelling…a searing, personal examination of one family that’s falling apart.” (Miami Herald)

“An exquisite, character-driven tale…its piercing insights into sex, family, and power are breathtaking…A masterfully concentrated and gripping novel of image and conquest, autonomy and love, inheritance and loss.” (Donna Seaman, Booklist)

“Muscular and fearless…It is [Erdrich’s] superb telling of this story that makes it real, her stellar writing that brings powerful truth to invented worlds.” (BookPage)

“Erdrich offers a portrait that’s convincing…Shadow Tag is wonderfully, painfully readable and revealing.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“A fast-paced novel of exceptional artistic, intellectual, and psychological merit…Nowhere have love’s complications been better illustrated than in the raw honesty of Shadow Tag.” (Boston Sunday Globe)

“A masterpiece…a captivating work of fiction…exquisite…tightly focused…arresting…This profoundly tragic novel captures that lament in some of Erdrich’s most beautiful and urgent writing.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)

“A brilliant cautionary tale…Reading it is like watching a wildfire whose flames are so mesmerizingly beautiful that it’s almost easy to ignore the deadly mess left behind.” (Library Journal)

“Into this deeply personal novel about marriage, family and individual identity, Erdrich weaves broader questions about cause and effect in history...A small masterpiece of compelling, painfully moving fiction.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review)) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

When Irene America discovers that her artist 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 marriage, while turning her Red Diary—hidden where Gil will find it—into a manipulative charade. As Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children, their home becomes a place of increasing violence and secrecy. And Irene drifts into alcoholism, moving ever closer to the ultimate destruction of a relationship filled with shadowy need and strange ironies.

Alternating between Irene's twin journals and an unflinching third-person narrative, Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and the anatomy of one family's struggle for survival and redemption.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Not only is this a delightful picture book story for younger children, but grown-ups who love books about books will love this one too (especially booksellers!). Dog Loves Books is an appealing story, encouraging young children to read and share books and stories and Dog himself is a charmingly drawn and lovable character. Dog loves books so much he decides to open a bookshop and although he meets with a few set-backs he doesn't let these worry him, because when Dog has books all around him he is never short of friends or adventures. Highly recommended - 5 Stars *****.
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Format: Paperback
In this relentlessly domestic novel about a failed marriage, Louise Erdrich changes her focus from grand themes and the on-going history of Native American cultures to a microscopic analysis of the interactions of two people who have failed, not just in their marriage, but in virtually all their other relationships. Gil, a well-recognized, almost-great artist, is thirteen years older than Irene, who had been his student and model. Devoting virtually his entire career to paintings of Irene, he has depicted her from her almost-innocent twenties to her present life as a heavy-drinking mother of three who despises him for dominating and controlling every aspect of her life.

Living in a three-story house in metropolitan Minneapolis, Gil and Irene lead a comfortable life, their three children all in private schools, and Irene with enough time to work on a new PhD thesis, this one on George Catlin, the American artist who traveled the west in the 1830s and 1840s making portraits of Native Americans from as many tribes as he could find. Irene is three-quarters Native American; Gil is 1/4 at most, yet both consider themselves Native Americans. Both have grown up in families without fathers, in homes which have not stressed their culture, and neither seems to have developed any inner resources or community ties to help deal with the crises they face on a daily basis in their crumbling marriage.

When Irene discovers that Gil has been reading the Red Diary she keeps in a file cabinet in her basement office, further proof of his need to control, she decides to take revenge, deliberately fabricating stories to shock and hurt Gil. She also opens a safety deposit box in town and makes regular trips to it to write the truth in a Blue Notebook that she has deposited there.
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By Ancient Mariner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 July 2015
Format: Paperback
As a three year old I understand trucks, fuzzy bunnies, balloons, trains, and talking silly chickens. I have more of a problem with inventory control at a bookstore in a poor foot traffic location.

I also have a problem with books that bully me and hector me or try to sell me on the importance of books, and the wonder of books, and the excitement of books, and the great smell of books, without being a particularly good book. Eat your spinach; brush your teeth; love books. Got it. Rather, just put a bunch of neat books out and I'll figure out the importance, wonder and excitement for myself.

I don't mean to sound so nasty, (the illustrations are charming, the intentions are certainly good), but, despite my honest effort, I have not made it all the way to the end of this book with any of my grandchildren. Each one has wiggled out of my lap about half way through, and then returned with a book to be read that he or she actually likes. And the fact that this book doesn't seem to fully engage kids is, after all, the most important point.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Louise Erdrich's work since reading 'Tracks' shortly after it was published many years ago. Given the subject matter of this book I felt somewhat cautious about it as it seemed such a departure from her usual territory so to speak.

Some reviewers of her other books have described how her prose is so intense at times that you cannot read too much of it at one sitting. I readily agree and find myself in the same category of readers. I was surprised therefore when I got through this book far more quickly than I usually do with her books. But that is not meant in any way as a criticism. The writing is of a much different kind I think in this book. The emotional intensity of the story propels you through the book. It's almost as if there is a voyeuristic quality to it at times and you feel as though this is subject matter far too personal to be 'let in on'. You are left in no doubt by the end of it that, at the very least, some of the events portrayed have to be autobiographical. Neither the husband or wife emerges from this story with much dignity as they are both burdened with top-end character flaws. The damage they inflict on each other is multi-faceted and unrelenting at times. At no point did I feel that my sympathies lay with one or the other of them. But for all that, at a very deep level their love for each other manages to shine through but never actually saves them.

Erdrich also manages to clearly show the effects of domestic abuse on the children involved and she does this in a very simple an un-dramatic way. There is a very moving scene about a third of the way into the book where she describes how the children react when they hear their parents fighting. The description is very very simply done but intensely powerful at the same time.
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