In 1998, Louise Erdrich published The Antelope Wife to high praise from readers and from critical reviewers. But three years ago, Erdrich reread the novel and started to think about the characters, wanting to know more about them. The result was a complete reworking of the book, which was published last month.
Here's the publisher's summary:
A new and radically revised version of the classic novel the New York Times called "a fiercely imagined tale of love and loss, a story that manages to transform tragedy into comic redemption, sorrow into heroic survival."I'm intrigued with the idea that an author would return to a well-received work and drastically change it. In an interview published in the P.S. section of the new Harper Perennial edition, Erdrich says that only "the beginning [of the novel] is the same, and then the book changes utterly." I haven't read the original, but I'm going to have to find a copy so I can make a comparison.
When Klaus Shawano abducts Sweetheart Calico and carries her far from her native Montana plains to his Minneapolis home, he cannot begin to imagine what the eventual consequences of his rash act will be. Shawano's mysterious Antelope Woman has stolen his heart—and soon proves to be a bewitching agent of chaos whose effect on others is disturbing and irresistible, as she alters the shape of things around her and the shape of things to come.
In this remarkable revised edition of her acclaimed novel, Louise Erdrich weaves an unforgettable tapestry of ancestry, fate, harrowing tragedy, and redemption that seems at once modern and eternal.
I am still in the early part of the revised version, but Eridrich has already drawn me into the world of the Roys and the Shawanos, two families who "got tangled up." I'm quickly getting attached to favorite characters, which makes we wonder even more about the original book. In the author's note about the revision, Erdrich makes it clear that she was driven to rewrite The Antelope Wife so she could more fully tell the story of characters who were short changed the first time around
The novel is presented from a variety of view points, a style I almost always like. In this case, we even hear from a dog, who tells us:
A dog's-eye view of history includes certain details that human people might rather skip. I have no illusions. Humans are capable of anything. (p. 73)Yes, I'm sure the dog is right.
Even if—or maybe especially if—you read the 1998 edition of The Antelope Wife, I encourage you to read the revised version. Erdrich's writing style is beautifully poetic, sometimes sparse, but always vivid.
Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.