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The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
LOUISE ERDRICH

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
57 reviews (2001) (384p)
National Book Award Finalist

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Book Description

For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved people, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. To complicate his fears, his quiet life changes when a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, difficult, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda. Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Sister Leopolda's piety and is faced with the most difficult decision of his life: Should he reveal all he knows and risk everything? Or should he manufacture a protective history though he believes Leopolda's wonder-working is motivated by evil?


Amazon.com Review
Over the course of 13 years and five novels, Louise Erdrich has staked out a richly imagined corner of North Dakota soil--her own Yoknapatawpha, where every character is connected to every other and nothing can be said to happen for the first time. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is no exception. The report in question comes from Father Damien Modeste, who has served the Ojibwe through a century of famine, epidemics, murders, and feuds. But the good priest is not what he appears. The prologue ends with the curiously beautiful image of the old man slowly removing heavy robes, undergarments, and, at last, a bandage wound tightly around women's breasts: "small, withered, modest as folded flowers."

How--and why--could such a deception last so long? That's the first mystery. The second begins when Father Jude Miller (a name familiar to readers of The Beet Queen) arrives to investigate the life of Sister Leopolda (or Pauline Puyat, another familiar name). Was Leopolda a saint? Or its opposite, whatever that is? Miracles, after all, are a part of the reservation's everyday life; for every nun's stigmata there's a secular wonder like the death of Nanapush. Indeed, the chapter detailing this old trickster's demise is the kind of earthy, tragicomic fable Erdrich does to perfection, including as it does an extended trial by moose, death by flatulence, and not one but two lustful resurrections.

Erdrich's writing is at its best when she chronicles the bittersweet humor of reservation life. It's at its worst, sadly, when she cranks up the fog machine and goes for the violins. ("He had the odd sensation that petals drifted in the air between them, petals of a fragrant and papery citrus velvet," she tells us, telegraphing Father Jude's attraction to a woman.) But at least the book's sins are sins of ambition--this is a novelist who revisits the same territory because the capaciousness of her vision demands it. Readers may forgive Erdrich's vagueness about Father Damien's religious calling, but they will never forget her images, as lovely and surprising as figures glimpsed in a dream: the devil in the shape of a black dog, his paw in a bowl of soup; freshly planted pansies, nodding at the priests' feet "like the faces of spoiled babies"; a woman in a billowing white nightdress riding a grand piano through the "gray soup" of a flood. Moments like these are small miracles of their own. --Mary Park


Other Award Winning Books by Louise Erdrich
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
448 reviews (2016) (384p) (PW Fiction) (Amazon Top100) (NYT100) () (Amz BoYSF) (NBCCA) (PW ANMCT) () () (WashPost)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
2738 reviews (2012) (336p) (Amazon Top10Lit) (Amazon Top100) (PW Top10) (NYT100) (NBA) (Amazon) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
64 reviews (2008) (320p) (PP) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich
26 reviews (1986) (352p) (NBCCA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
72 reviews (1984) (384p) (NBCCA) (NYTimes) (LATimes)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Louise Erdrich Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 8  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 6  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 1 The Plague of Doves ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 2 Love Medicine · LaRose ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 3 Love Medicine · The Beet Queen · LaRose ·  
National Book Award Wins 1 The Round House ·  
National Book Award Nominations 2 The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse · The Round House ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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Pulitzer Prize | National Book Critics Circle Award | National Book Award | PEN/Faulkner Award | Man Booker Prize | Contact