An Old Bear, Laughing

Once again, Louise Erdrich examines the cross-cultural muddle of the Indian reservation

A READER WHO HAS NOT followed the doings of Louise Erdrich's bewitched North Dakota Chippewas since her first novel, Love Medicine (missing The Beet Queen and Tracks for no good reason), finds in the fourth telling of the story that not much has changed. That's good; most of the same powerful characters are still around causing trouble, some as hovering spirits, some as living beings. A few years have passed, and in The Bingo Palace (HarperCollins; 274 pages; $23) we are close to present time, but reservation life is still a shabby, cross-cultural muddle. And Erdrich, herself part Chippewa, part German-...

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