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on 25 August 1999
I'm sorry, but I lost interest at about half way through this tedious and self absorbed book. While Eldrich is talented, I was confused to the true message of this book. Is this a prose about insecure women who pick bad men? Or is it about one lucky loser who easily attracts stupid women? The indian-mother earth thing was a bore also. Jack is a poor example of modern American manhood and as a male I resent Eldrich's analysis as such. I could care less about Jack and his self important ex-wives. Sorry.
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on 18 May 1999
Louise Erdrich is a fine, accomplished writer. Somehow, it seemed to me that this novel exhibited signs of subject exhaustion. I believe that _Love Medicine_ is proof that Erdrich should be held in high regard as a writer, as the talent is truly there. That work also served as a template for some of her later works, a fact which I am a bit disappointed by since I feel that none of them have achieved the same level of poetic impact. _Tales of Burning Love_ is well written, but I feel that the story drags in places, and can be tedious to sit through; it helped that I read the majority of it while riding the bus. I was sorry to see her using the same characters again. They are strong, worthy, and well-developed characters, but in the context of this particular story they seemed more contrived.
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on 2 June 1998
Louise Erdrich is a masterful novelist, capable of writing spellbinding prose and developing complex, wonderfully human characters. In *Tales of Burning Love*, all of these talents are apparent, and the novel is, if nothing else, a "good read." If some of her past works have tended toward a plodding pace and an ethereal kind of tone, this one is different in that it finds Ehrlich creating a veritable snowstorm of action and events. In fact, there are so many bizarre twists and turns, so many eerie occurrences laden with ironies and sly twists of fate that one suspects that Erdrich may here be trying to broaden her audience so as to make her work more commercially successful. It was this shift toward the tawdry, the sensational, and the lowest common denominator in terms of target audience that I found myself resenting by the end of the book.
The male protagonist, Jack Mauser, has few or no redeeming qualities, as far as I can discern. He's cruel, moody, unstable, and neither terribly bright nor sensitive. Yet one of the principal premises of the book is that this man is veritably irresistible to a variety of women, four of whom he marries. Perhaps this makes the book a "woman's book," inasmuch as some female readers might find some point of identity with these women in the way that they just can't help loving this jerk, despite their better judgment. But I found the whole swirl of affections and passions surrounding Jack Mauser annoying and unconvincing.
Even at her worst, Louise Erdrich is a terrific novelist, and this novel is well worth reading simply for the masterful way that Erdrich tells a story, makes transitions, and creates moods and visions. But this is not her best novel.
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on 9 June 1997
This is Louise Erdrich's latest novel, newly released in paperback. Though it ties into the books of the Beet Queen Trilogy, it is not really a sequel, and is a good introduction to Erdrich's work for those who are unfamiliar with it. But if you are an Erdrich fan, as I am, you'll enjoy meeting Dot, Leonora and Gerry again.

What would happen if a man's four wives were trapped in a car during a snowstorm, unsure if they would ever get out alive? They would tell stories about him, of course! And interspersed with their stories about Jack Mauser, this infuriating man that they all--in their way--still love, we hear the womens' own stories of survival, pain, passion and laughter. There's intellectual Eleanor, taking refuge in a convent house in North Dakota to stave off loneliness and despair; Dot, who marries Jack although still officially married to--and in love with-- a man serving two life sentences in prison; Candice, a successful family dentist who meets Jack in a city dump with his dog; and young Marlis, taken in and protected by Candice as she bears Jack's baby.

In the end, although Jack's story is not without fascination (you'll never believe the twist) you'll come to respect and admire the women, all of whom come into their own both thanks to and in spite of their husband.

Erdrich has a gift for breathing truth into even the most fantastic events and making everyday interactions hold mystery and magic. This is her most captivating novel
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on 15 July 1999
I just finished this book and I have a question. If we are to believe the ending of _Bingo Palace_, Gerry Nanapush, after he and Lipsha have stolen a car with Jack Mauser Jr. in it, run into the ghost of June Morrisey and Gerry leaves this world to join her in the next.
This time frame is revisited in _Tales_ and we see that Gerry has somehow escaped the snowbound car and gone to see Dot, joins the 4 wives as the hitchhiker in the back of their snowbound vehicle, then leaves and visits his daughter before dissapearing. How is this possible? How he could he take off to another world with June (presumably as some kind of spirit entity), and at the sasme time come visit Dot as a very alive human? It could be explained if the Gerry that vistied Dot was a spirit, but the book makes it very clear he's not. He has sex with Dot, and even at the end of his visit with his daughter asks her where the gascan for the snowmobile is so he can escape, something a spirit would not need to do.
As far as the book itself, I found it to be another example of Erdrich's superb talent, full of poetic and spirtual images and well drawn, compelling characters. I thought it did drag a bit during the part where the 4 wives were stranded, especially during Marlis's story. Overall I'd highly reccomend it. It would help to read _Love Medicine_, _Tracks_, and _Bingo Palace_ first, in that order.
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on 2 April 1998
This novel lacks the complexity and focus that Erdrich's other works so wonderfully contain. The ending, with the four ex-wives all neatly paired up with their "true" loves was disappointing, and lacked that sense of honesty that I've come to expect from Erdrich. Connecting this novel to Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, Tracks, and The Bingo Palace through the use of Dot and Gerry Nanapush, Sister Leopolda, Lyman Lamartine, etc, was a mistake--this book does not fit into the cycle of those four books. This novel wants to be about Eleanor, and connecting it with the other four novels detracts from her story. A disappointing book from an admired author. Looking forward to The Antelope Wife.
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on 29 December 1998
Effortlessly Erdrich weaves a web of words that quickly unravels the skeen of the characters lives. We are told where they've been, but where they are and where they are going is as swirling and directionless as the snow in a squall. And so much of the characters lives are indeed revealed during a snowbound incident. There they must come to grips with the truths in their lives and what it means to love, lose, and love again. I highly recommend this novel. Of all Erdrich's work it most fully encompasses what it FEELS like to be stumbling through love and life.
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on 5 January 1998
I usually enjoy Ms. Erdrich's writing. In fact, I enjoyed the her phases, sentences and word choices throughout Tales of Burning Love but I had a real difficult time with this one. At times (very few times) the book had me rivited to my seat. -Jack Mauser trying to meet an old love in a convent. A house burning with Jack inside. A snowstorm.
But too often this novel bogged down. Patching together the stories of the wives become difficult for me. If you've never read Louse Erdrich try The Beet Queen or Love Medicine.
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