Episode 36: The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich, 2008

“Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. 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.

The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.”

(Description from HarperCollins)

In a bit of a quiet episode, the Spoilers revisit 2020 with Tookie, the protagonist of Erdrich’s beautiful novel. The novel takes them back to the beginning of the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and the tumultuous summer that followed. But while Erdrich’s book is about the haunting reverberations of the past, it is also about efforts toward individual and collective healing. It is about how we move through and respond to injustice and trauma, and how we can try to become whole again. It’s about language and books and absolution and love. It’s about the sentences we all carry and the ones we speak to each other when it seems like there is nothing that can be said. Damn it, Louise Erdrich! This book is too much! 

Mentioned in the Show/References to Check Out!

Spoilers Anita and Todd visit Birchbark Books!

What we are watching, eating, listening to, etc!

  • Todd:  Severance (Apple TV), Winning Time: The Rise of the Laker Dynasty (HBO), Our Flag Means Death (HBO Max)
  • Crystal: Kate Baer, I Hope This Finds You Well
  • Anita: Everything Everywhere All At Once and Joy Oladokun, In Defense of My Own Happiness

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