Review of THE BINGO PALACE by LOUISE ERDRICH
This novel tells the story of a love triangle between Lipsha, Lyman, and Shawnee. While some characters overlap with ones we met in LOVE MEDICINE and who appear in a few of Erdrich’s other novels, this book can be read as a standalone without any difficulty.
Lipsha has a bad reputation, but when he returns home he intends to show the love of life that he would be a good choice for her. Lyman, though, has already fathered a child with Lipsha’s beloved, and has an infuriating reputation for doing everything right. Shawnee is the object of both men’s affections, but not surprisingly she’s less interested in being someone’s prize and more in carving out her own life and identity for both herself and her son.
I confess that I sometimes skimmed the prose in this novel, since it’s overflowing with extraneous information and words. While this a slim book, I still often found myself thinking that the story could be told in half or a third of the words used. Much of the text is abstractions that don’t really root the reader in anything.
That said, Erdrich has a knack for delivering excellent book group novels and this one’s no exception. There’s plenty to discuss especially in regards to crafting your own identity when so many people around you are trying to mold you into who they want you to be.