by Sukey HowardApril, 2003
Louise Erdrich is back on her home turf too, back in Argus, North Dakota where she has set so many of her wonderful novels. The Master Butchers Singing Club, a double treat because Ms. Erdrich is the reader, shows us another side of Argus and another side of the author's Ojibwe-German-American heritage. This time her superb storytelling talent is focused not on dislocated Indians, but on a German immigrant much like her own grandfather, who comes to America to forge a life in the new world, bringing only his knives, his master butcher's skill, a suitcase of sausages and a surprisingly lyric voice. Beginning with WWI and ending with WWII, with affairs of state shadowing affairs of the soul, Erdrich follows Fidelis Waldvogel, his feisty German wife, the equally feisty Argus woman she befriends, and the many other, often odd, oddly endearing characters whose lives and fates mingle in the confines of small town closeness.