by Louise Erdrich
from the September 9, 2019 issue of The New Yorker
Louise Erdrich is one of my favorite authors. I think her body of work is exceptional and important. Next March, her next novel, The Night Watchman, comes out, and I’m happy to say that “The Stone” is not an excerpt!
From the first paragraph, this story feels like one of the fables her characters might tell their grandchildren, just in a different setting:
Her family drove north every summer to stay at the end of an island in cold Lake Superior, and it was there that she found the stone. It wasn’t on the beach, where stones are usually found, but in the woods. She was wandering in the brush behind the cabin, uncurling ferns, kicking up leaves, snapping the heads off mushrooms. She sat down beside a birch clump, and after a few moments her neck prickled. She had the distinct feeling that someone was staring at her. Looking around, she saw the stone. It was black and rounded, nestled in the crotch of the birch clump. Water had scoured two symmetrical hollows into the stone, giving it an owlish look, or a blind look, or, anyway, some quality that was oddly attractive. At first, she was startled and a little spooked, but then she ran her hand over the stone and it felt like a normal stone. It was about half the size of a human skull and very smooth. The girl’s mother called to her, and she got up, holding the stone, and carried it into the cabin. At first, she put it beside her pallet in the bedroom she shared with her siblings. But then, thinking that her brothers or her sister might take the stone, she tucked it right at the bottom of her sleeping bag. That night, her feet rested on the cool curve of the stone, and she brushed the smooth eye sockets with her toes.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their week and that you have the opportunity to read — and read “The Stone.” If you do, please let us know your thoughts.