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The Red Convertible

This collection of short pieces by Louise Erdrich is a rich sampler of her writing at its best.

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When reading for pleasure, I don’t usually choose short stories. I’ve got exceptions, such as Flannery O’Connor, Jhumpa Lahiri, Angela Carter, and, of course, Alice Munro. But often, it doesn’t seem like there are enough pages for me to fully sink inside a tale. That’s not a problem with Louise Erdrich’s gloriously fat new collection of short stories, The Red Convertible.

At a hair under 500 pages, it’s stuffed with 30 years’ worth of Erdrich’s gorgeous prose. And her fictional town of Argus, N.D., and its environs is so detailed, you could walk for days without finding the backs of the sets.

Presented in chronological order (you can tell how much real time has passed by noting when “Chippewa” changes to “Ojibwe”), most of the stories will be familiar to fans. More than half are excerpted from Erdrich’s novels, and the names are old friends.

The Nanapush, Kashpaw, and Pillager families jostle and squabble, but there’s enough room in the anthology for everyone to get their say. By my count, her earliest novels, “Love Medicine” and “The Beet Queen,” get the most representation, with five stories culled from each.

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