61 Quotes & Sayings By Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a Mennonite family. She received her BA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Award, and was made into a critically acclaimed film by Miramax Films starring Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones Read more

The film adaptation, Love Medicine, won the Academy Award for best picture and was nominated for four other Oscars. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was made into a film by Robert Redford. Her most recent novel is The Painted Drum: A Novel of Life in a Northern Cheyenne Community and in the New World .

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. Louise Erdrich
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. Louise Erdrich
To love another human in all of her splendor and...
To love another human in all of her splendor and imperfect perfection , it is a magnificent task...tremendous and foolish and human. Louise Erdrich
For much of my life I was not acquainted with what may seem the obscure derivation of the adjective 'sincere.' It is from two Latin words, sine, without, and cera, wax. What a rare thing it is to be treated without wax. My desire is always to conduct relationships based upon honest regard. As I sipped the last drops of beef tea I tried to enumerate moments stripped of pretense and all I could come up with was those efforts of mine, with brother-in-law, when he grasped my hand in desperate gratitude, unknowing, and allowed me to really see him. As I relived those moments of extremity, a strange thought met me unawares. Were I not to know him, or someone, some person, at this radical depth, I fear my time on earth would be hideous. I was surprised to think this. But it crossed my mind that to know others on a superficial level only is a desperate hell and life is worth living only if the veneer is stripped away, the polish, the wax, and we see the true grain of the other no matter how far less than perfect, even ugly, even savage at the heart. Louise Erdrich
Soon she cried and farted herself to sleep.
Soon she cried and farted herself to sleep. Louise Erdrich
Freedom, I found is not only in the running but...
Freedom, I found is not only in the running but in the heart, the mind, the hands. Louise Erdrich
Snow stepped forward and slapped Josette, who slapped her back. Emmaline dropped the spoon and slapped them both - she had never slapped her child, or any child, before that moment. It happened so quickly - like a scene choreographed by the Three Stooges, which was what saved it. Emmaline started crying, then Snow. The three of them clung together. I want to cut off my hand, wept Emmaline. I never slapped you girls before. We should each cut our hands off, wailed Snow.Then making frybread two of us will have to stand together, you know, like each use our remaining hand, pat, pat. Josette and Snow demonstrated. Pat, pat, how pitiful, cry-laughed Emmaline. . Louise Erdrich
To join the company of women, to be adults, we go through a period of proudly boasting of having survived our own mother's indifference, anger, overpowering love, the burden of her pain, her tendency to drink or teetotal, her warmth or coldness, praise or criticism, sexual confusions or embarrassing clarity. It isn't enough that she sweat, labored, bore her daughters howling or under total anesthesia or both. No. She must be responsible for our psychic weaknesses the rest of her life. It is alright to feel kinship with your father, to forgive. We all know that. But your mother is held to a standard so exacting that it has no principles. She simply must be to blame. Louise Erdrich
The contents of a house can trigger all sorts of revisions to family history. Louise Erdrich
I shared with Fleur the mysterious self-contempt of the survivor. There were times we hated who we were, and who we had to become, in order not to follow those we loved into the next world. We grew hard. We became impenetrable, sparing of our pity. Sorrows that leveled other people were small to us. We made no move to avoid pain. Sometimes we even welcomed it--we were clumsy with knives, fire, boiling water, steel traps. Pain took our minds off the greater pain that was the mistake that we still existed. Louise Erdrich
The music was more than music- at least what we are used to hearing. The music was feeling itself. The sound connected instantly with something deep and joyous. Those powerful moments of true knowledge that we have to paper over with daily life. The music tapped the back of our terrors, too. Things we'd lived through and didn't want to ever repeat. Shredded imaginings, unadmitted longings, fear and also surprisingly pleasures. No, we can't live at that pitch. But every so often something shatters like ice and we are in the river of our existence. We are aware. And this realization was in the music, somehow, or in the way Shamengwa played it. Louise Erdrich
Women without children are also the best of mothers, often, with the patience, interest, and saving grace that the constant relationship with children cannot always sustain. I come to crave our talk and our daughters gain precious aunts. Women who are not mothering their own children have the clarity and focus to see deeply into the character of children webbed by family. A child is fortuante who feels witnessed as a peron, outside relationships with parents by another adult. . Louise Erdrich
Wherever the family was, these two dogs, both six-year-old shepherd mixes, took up their posts at the central coming-and-going point. Gil called them concierge dogs. And it's true, they were inquisitive and accommodating. But they were not fawning or overly playful. They were watchful and thoughtful. Irene thought they had gravitas. Weighty demeanors. She thought of them as diplomats. She had noticed that when Gil was about to lose his temper one of the dogs always appeared and did something to divert his attention. Sometimes they acted like fools, but it was brilliant acting. Once, when he was furious about a bill for the late fees for a lost video, one of the dogs had walked right up to Gil and lifted his leg over his shoe. Gil was shouting at Florian when the piss splattered down, and she'd felt a sudden jolt of pride in the dog. Louise Erdrich
Information, long of reach, devastating, and as a side benefit, a substance with no serious legal repercussions, was superior to any other form of power. Louise Erdrich
Our baby gives herself to me completely. There is no hesitation, no reservation, no holding back, no coldness, no craft, no tremor or fear in her love. Although our relationship may encompass tears, frustration, even fury, it is an utterly reliable bond. As it grows, her love is literally unadulterated. Her love is wholly of the child, pure in its essence as children are in their direct passions. Children do not love wisely, but perhaps they love the best of all. Louise Erdrich
Only when you are secure enough not to fear immediate survival can you display creative intelligence in anything you do. Louise Erdrich
They're all the same-- the cop, the criminal, the defense, the prosecutor-- they all share a fundamental belief in the malleability of truth Louise Erdrich
For me, this is old. I probably know what is happening better than he does because I've tried over and over to wreck myself on another human, and always failed. I fail now. For it seems that my sorrow is deep in my bones and I'd have to break every single one to let it out. Louise Erdrich
She compares the deepest wells of depression to gestation, to a time enclosed, a secluded lightlessness in which, unknown and unforced, we grow. Louise Erdrich
I am part of what she thinks is her illness, a symptom of which she thinks she has been cured. She, on the other hand, is what I was looking for. Louise Erdrich
Sorrow eats time. Be patient. Time eats sorrow. Louise Erdrich
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and being alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You have to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes too near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could. Louise Erdrich
Delphine began to read with a mad attention when she wanted to talk to Clarisse. She saw that in her life there was a woman-shaped hole, a cutout that led to a mysterious place. Through it, her mother, then Eva, and now Clarisse had walked. If only she could plunge her arms through and drag them back. Louise Erdrich
Women don't realize how much store men set on the regularity of their habits. We absorb their comings and goings into our bodies, their rhythms into our bones. Louise Erdrich
He had a thousand-year-old stare. Louise Erdrich
A woman's body is the gate to this life. A man's body is the gate to the next life. Louise Erdrich
I think she is confused by the way I want her, which is like nobody else. I know this deep down. I want her in a new way, a way she's never been told about. Louise Erdrich
The pattern glitters with cruelty. The blue beads are colored with fish blood, the reds with powdered heart. The beads collect in borders of mercy. The yellows are dyed with the ocher of silence. There is no telling which twin will fall asleep first, allowing the other's colors to dominate, for how long. The design grows, the overlay deepens. The beaders have no other order at the heart of their being. Do you know that the beads are sewn onto the fabric of the earth with endless strands of human muscle, human sinew, human hair? We are as crucial to this making as other animals. No more and no less important than the deer. Louise Erdrich
Delphine witnessed awful things occurring to other humans. Worse than that, she was powerless to alter their fate. It would be that way all her life--disasters, falling like chairs all around her, falling so close they disarranged her hair, but not touching her. Louise Erdrich
Old love, middle love, the kind of love that knows itself and knows that nothing lasts, is a desperate shared wildness. Louise Erdrich
If, as I suspect, my body survives by uttering itself over and over again, then I have some questions. If [I] am one word, so are my daughters, so are all of us in strings and loops. Each life is one short word slowly uttered. Louise Erdrich
Of course, English is a very powerful language, a colonizer's language and a gift to a writer. English has destroyed and sucked up the languages of other cultures - its cruelty is its vitality. Louise Erdrich
For it was through books that she felt her life to be unjudged Look at all of the great mix-ups, messes, confinement, and double-dealings in Shakespeare, she thought. Identities disguised continually, in a combative dance of illusion and discovery. Louise Erdrich
She gave her husband such a night of sexual pleasure that his eyes followed her constantly after that, narrow and hot. He grew molten when she passed near other men, and at night they made their own shaking tent. They got teased too much and moved farther off, into the brush, into the nesting ground of shy and holy loons. There, no one could hear them. In solitude they made love until they became gaunt and hungry, pale windigos with aching eyes, tongues of flame. Louise Erdrich
Upon walking into Eva's kitchen, something profound happened to Delphine. She experienced a fabulous expansion of being. Light-headed, she felt a swooping sensation and then a quiet, as though she'd settled like a bird. Louise Erdrich
And it occurred to me how even pulling trees that day, just months ago, I was in heaven. Unaware. I had known nothing even as the evil was occurring, I hadn't been touched yet. Louise Erdrich
When small towns find they cannot harm the strangest of their members, when eccentrics show resilience, they are eventually embraced and even cherished. Louise Erdrich
Then his head tipped down on his chest and he fell into the instant sleep of the ancient and the very young. Louise Erdrich
White people covered the earth like lice. Louise Erdrich
And how funny, strange, that a thing can grow so powerful even when planted in the wrong place. Ideas too, I muttered. Ideas. Louise Erdrich
There will never come a time when I will be able to resist my emotions. Louise Erdrich
Her mind was present because she was always gone. Her hands were filled because they grasped the meaning of empty. Life was simple. Her husband returned and she served him with indifferent patience this time. When he asked what had happened to her heat for him, she gestured to the west. The sun was setting. The sky was a body of fire. Louise Erdrich
Emotions unreel in her like spools of cotton. Louise Erdrich
Ravens are the birds I'll miss most when I die. If only the darkness into which we must look were composed of the black light of their limber intelligence. If only we did not have to die at all. Instead, become ravens. Louise Erdrich
Life seems to flood by, taking our loves quickly in its flow. In the growth of children, in the aging of beloved parents, time's chart is magnified, shown in its particularity, focused, so that with each celebration of maturity there is also a pang of loss. This is our human problem, one common to parents, sons and daughters, too - how to let go while holding tight, how to simultaneously cherish the closeness and intricacy of the bond while at the same time letting out the raveling string, the red yarn that ties our hearts. Louise Erdrich
I tried to get away from him, to get to that door, but instead I backed up against the wall and was stuck there in that white, white room. Louise Erdrich
I stood there in the shadowed doorway thinking with my tears. Yes, tears can be thoughts, why not? Louise Erdrich
I look down at my black Diablo, head on his paws. He is at my feet. He knows that he must trust to my forgiveness for his daily meat. So he wags his plumed tail and noses at my foot and I pat him gently. Affection, I tell him, is how a dog survives. Knowing how to exist without it is how a woman wrests her life into her own hands. But then it comes, it takes one by surprise. Affection and freedom and the will to risk. Everything that happened since I answered the door to Fleur was leading up to this. Louise Erdrich
If I die, don't take this too hard, " she counseled them, "death is only part of things bigger than we can imagine. Our brains are just starting the greatness, to learn how to do things like flying. What next? You will see, and you will see that your mother is of the design. And I will always be made of things, and things will always be made of me. Nothing can get rid of me because I am already included into the pattern. Louise Erdrich
Our songs travel the earth. We sing to one another. Not a single note is ever lost and no song is original. They all come from the same place and go back to a time when only the stones howled. Louise Erdrich
As Delphine watched, into her head there popped a strange notion: the idea that perhaps strongly experienced moments, as when Eva turned and the sun met her hair and for that one instant the symbol blazed out, those particular moments were eternal. Those moments actually went somewhere. Into a file of moments that existed out of time's range and could not be pilfered by God. Louise Erdrich
Some people fall right through the hole in their lives. It's invisible, but they come to it after time, never knowing where. Louise Erdrich
They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were they all fused into a single stubbornness. Louise Erdrich
I was in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms. Louise Erdrich
I got well by talking. Death could not get a word in edgewise grew discouraged and traveled on. Louise Erdrich
It was enough just to sit there without words. Louise Erdrich
Here I am where I ought to be. Louise Erdrich
I got well by talking. Death could not get a word in edgewise, grew discouraged, and traveled on. Louise Erdrich
My mother is Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and she lived on her home reservation. My father taught there. He had just been discharged from the Air Force. He went to school on the GI Bill and got his teaching credentials. He is adventurous - he worked his way through Alaska at age seventeen and paid for his living expenses by winning at the poker table. Louise Erdrich
My grandfather was a persuasive man who made friends with people at every level of influence. In order to fight against our tribe's termination, he went to newspapers and politicians and urged them to advocate for our tribe in Washington. He also supported his family through the Depression as a truck farmer. Louise Erdrich