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The Sentence (2021)

de Louise Erdrich

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1,5878510,587 (4.07)166
A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store's most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls' Day, but she simply won't leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading with murderous attention, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.… (més)
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» Mira també 166 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 85 (següent | mostra-les totes)
My book club recently visited Birchbark, Louise Erdrich’s bookstore near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis to discuss her book The Sentence, a major setting of which is the bookstore itself. Though I’d never been before, gathering to discuss the book in the very space it describes added a feeling of odd specificity that I feel made it a very affecting and lovely read. The blurred boundaries between fiction and reality evoked during the course of the novel as Erdrich’s bookseller ex-con narrator Tookie confronts a haunting at the store as the Pandemic reduced retail itself to a strange half life, and by refracting this surreality by being present at this location really brought its themes home.

As a descendant of settlers and immigrants in the US and in Minnesota in particular, it is always important, I feel, to recognize that this land is not ours. From what I have read of Erdrich’s work so far, she creates an intimate and personal atmosphere yet interweaves some very big questions and ideas into her narratives, particularly the continued presence of native society in a landscape that was taken from them. Adeptly drawing on magical realism in the recognizable landscape of the Twin Cities, Erdrich’s work expresses and celebrates the continued vibrancy of indigenous life and ideas and their continued existence and place in a society that often fails to recognize them.

Set between November 2019 and 2020, Erdrich captures a nuanced and vivid picture of Minneapolis during these fraught months as COVID-19, the uprising against racist police violence after the murder of George Floyd, and the tense election period challenged the social order of our nation in ways not seen in decades. It really brought me back to those uncertain days, of fear and hope, anger and joy, the smell of smoke, and the moist fabric of our homemade masks. The Sentence was, I feel, very effective at exploring these ideas as Tookie’s unreliable memory serves as a poignant microcosm of this history, of a landscape and a state, a life, that belongs to them but has been completely altered by alien forces. The significance of sentences themselves, whether they are the time Tookie spent in state custody or the power that words have on people and our societies tie the novel together in a very effective way.

All in all, this is emphasized wonderfully by the novel’s bookstore setting, where Erdrich and Tookie leave us plenty of inspiration and book lists to check out for more literature, fiction, and nonfiction, to explore and to help learn about these ideas. ( )
  Spoonbridge | Sep 21, 2023 |
Previously incarcerated for a decade for a crime she was set up to take the fall for, Tookie spent most of her prison time reading and upon release looking for employment in a bookstore. In the present day , she works for an independent bookstore in Minneapolis owned by “Louise” and is married to Pollux , a former tribal police officer and a caring and generous man who is also an authority in Native American traditions and rituals . After a regular (and slightly annoying) patron dies while reading a manuscript covertly taken from the bookstore , Tookie starts feeling a supernatural presence in the bookstore and believes that it is Flora’s ghost haunting the store. Initially she is the only one who feels the presence and there are some entertaining and funny moments but when an unpleasant encounter with Flora’s ghost leaves her unconscious, Tookie realizes that she needs to get to the bottom of why Flora refuses to leave. With the help of her colleagues she starts to explore the origins and content of the mysterious manuscript which Tookie and her friends believe played a part in Flora's death and find a way to rid the store of Flora’s ghost once and for all - all this while working in the midst of a pandemic and worried for her family’s health and safety .While she delves into the details of Flora’s life ,Tookie gains perspective on her own past , life choices and the importance of the people and relationships in her present life.

“Ghosts bring elegies and epitaphs, but also signs and wonders. What comes next?”

Set in the most part in 2020 Minneapolis, The Sentence by Louise Erdrich covers a lot of ground in terms of current events such as the COVID pandemic, George Floyd’s brutal murder and the subsequent protests . With an interesting cast of characters , glimpses into Native American history and traditions and elements of magical realism in a real time setting, The Sentence is a masterfully crafted story that elicits both smiles and tears. I enjoy stories set in libraries or bookstores and The Sentence is no exception. The role of books and bookstores in times when people are forced to live in isolation from one another due to circumstances beyond one’s control is beautifully depicted throughout the story. Thanks to the author for including Tookie’s reading list at the end of the novel. ( )
  srms.reads | Sep 4, 2023 |
Sometimes I read a book that lets me know that maybe I am not as smart as I should be. This is one of those books. There is a lot of depth that I think I am missing, but the story itself, even at face value, is an excellent one. It involves a ghost and a bookstore, so how could it go wrong after all? I adore Tookie and sure wish I knew her. I love the way books play such a large part of this multi-faceted story. I laughed in places and wanted to cry at others. Woven through Tookie's story are the difficult years of the pandemic and the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd. And of course there's Flora. This is a book I'll keep and reread in the future. Also, I actually purchased this book from an independent bookstore in the small town near us. I didn't know at the time how very appropriate that purchase was. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Aug 24, 2023 |
I think parts of this bypassed me. I liked the writing but I found I engaged with different sections more than others and would be skimming some pages. I’m not really sure what my feelings are on it it’s quite a muddle of genres and not at all what I thought. Not bad but not sure I’d revisit or read the author again. ( )
  LiteraryReadaholic | Aug 13, 2023 |
A haunting journey of a book, The Sentence takes place over the first year of the pandemic, and carries the reader back to those horrors and uncertainties with incredible nuance. Erdrich's writing is, as ever, something to sink into and enjoy at every turn, and her care with the details of character and space make this book something special. There's also a real weight to it, because of that care--with covid, with social justice, with colonization all coming together against both real and metaphorical hauntings and the strongest of human emotions--and there's no question in my mind that I'd read anything from Erdrich after this.

I'd absolutely recommend it to anyone. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jul 17, 2023 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 85 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The Sentence covers a lot of ground, from ghosts to the joys and trials of bookselling to the lives of Native Americans and inmates doing hard time. And that’s just the first half of the story, before the pandemic, before George Floyd. The novel gets a little baggy after a while, as Erdrich struggles to juggle multiple plotlines. But the virtues here so outweigh the flaws that to complain seems almost like ingratitude ... The Sentence is rife with passages that stop you cold, particularly when Erdrich...articulates those stray, blindsiding moments that made 2020 not only tragic but also so downright weird and unsettling ... There is something wonderfully comforting in the precise recollection of such furtive memories, like someone quietly opening a door onto a little slice of clarity ... The Sentence testifies repeatedly to the power books possess to heal us and, yes, to change our lives ... There are books, like this one, that while they may not resolve the mysteries of the human heart, go a long way toward shedding light on our predicaments. In the case of The Sentence, that’s plenty.
afegit per Lemeritus | editaNew York Times, Malcolm Jones (Web de pagament) (Nov 9, 2021)
 
The coronavirus pandemic is still raging away and God knows we’ll be reading novels about it for years, but Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence may be the best one we ever get. Neither a grim rehashing of the lockdown nor an apocalyptic exaggeration of the virus, her book offers the kind of fresh reflection only time can facilitate, and yet it’s so current the ink feels wet ... Such is the mystery of Erdrich’s work, and The Sentence is among her most magical novels, switching tones with the felicity of a mockingbird ... The great arc of [the] first 30 pages — zany body-snatching! harrowing prison ordeal! opposites-attract rom-com! — could have provided all the material needed for a whole novel, but Erdrich has something else in mind for The Sentence: This is a ghost story — though not like any I’ve read before. The novel’s ectoplasm hovers between the realms of historical horror and cultural comedy ... Moving at its own peculiar rhythm with a scope that feels somehow both cloistered and expansive, The Sentence captures a traumatic year in the history of a nation struggling to appreciate its own diversity.
afegit per Lemeritus | editaWashington Post, Ron Charles (Web de pagament) (Nov 9, 2021)
 
The Sentence: It's such an unassuming title (and one that sounds like it belongs to a writing manual); but, Louise Erdrich's latest is a deceptively big novel, various in its storytelling styles; ambitious in its immediacy... All is tumultuous in The Sentence — the spirits, the country, Erdrich's own style. One of the few constants this novel affirms is the power of books. Tookie recalls that everyone at Birchbark is delighted when bookstores are deemed an "essential" business during the pandemic, making books as important as "food, fuel, heat, garbage collection, snow shoveling, and booze." No arguments here. And I'd add The Sentence to the growing list of fiction that seems pretty "essential" for a deeper take on the times we're living through.
 
Clearly having been written in the midst of the events that overtake its characters—the coronavirus and then the Twin Cities' eruption over the murder of George Floyd—the book has a sometimes disconcerting you-are-there quality, which can seem out of step with the story proper, though the events do amplify the novel's themes of social and personal connection and dissociation, and of the historic crimes and contemporary aggressions, micro and overt, perpetrated in the name of white supremacy. What does hold everything together here, fittingly enough in a novel so much of which takes place in a bookstore, is the connection made through reading; and one of the great charms of The Sentence for an avid reader is the running commentary on books—recommendations, judgments, citations, even, at the end, a Totally Biased List of Tookie's favorites.
 
Few novelists can fuse the comic and the tragic as beautifully as Louise Erdrich does, and she does it again in The Sentence ... No one escapes heartache in The Sentence, but mysteries old and new are solved, and some of the broken places made stronger. The Sentence, a book about the healing power of books, makes its own case splendidly.
 
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From the time of birth to the time of death, every word you utter is part of one long sentence. - Sun Yung Shin, Unbearable Splendor
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To everyone who has worked at Birchbark Books, to our customers, and to our ghosts.
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While in prison, I received a dictionary.
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The first word I looked up was the word ‘sentence.’ I had received an impossible sentence of sixty years from the lips of a judge who believed in an afterlife. So the word with its yawning c, belligerent little e’s, with its hissing sibilants and double n’s, this repetitive bummer of a word made of slyly stabbing letters that surrounded an isolate human t, this word was in my thoughts every moment of every day.
Books contain everything worth knowing except what ultimately matters.
Suddenly he had a wise preternatural look. It was as though he’d only pretended to be an asshole in life but was really a shamanic priest.
Native Americans are the most oversentenced people currently imprisoned. I love statistics because they place what happens to a scrap of humanity, like me, on a worldwide scale.
But in the despair of routine any aberration is a radiant signal.
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A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store's most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls' Day, but she simply won't leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading with murderous attention, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.

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