There is often a very real chain linking American literature and music. Sometimes it can be heavyhanded and intrusive, at other times it is truly organic and compelling. I was recently reading Louise Erdrich’s new novel The Sentence which, among other things, eerily captures the spectral mood of the last two years. (More on the book later.) At one point, the protagonist hears Johnny Cash’s heartbreaking version of Trent Reznor’s Hurt playing mysteriously on her own playlist. As often happens, the video of the very same recording showed-up in a blog that I follow. If by some chance you haven’t heard Cash’s version, here it is:
Although I often post about books, I try and avoid book reviews mainly because I hate reviewers spoiling a book for me and don’t want to be that person. But I seem to have backed myself into a corner in the case of Louise Erdrich’s “The Sentence.” Sufficeit to say, the novel has a literary shape-shifting quality that eludes simplistic descriptions. The novel effortlessly genre switches from what has been described as a “zany crime caper” to a heartening story of redemption, to an exploration of America’s original sins of native genocide and racism, a book about the life-transforming nature of literature, to a ghost story, and a tale of our pandemic, apocalypse, groundhog day as experienced by the staff of a small indie bookstore. So, I hope that I’ve managed a non-review book review, in any case it’s well worth a read.
NB: once again, if you subscribe to TBTP by email, and the video fails to play, just click on the short url link at the bottom.