“You cannot feel time grind against you. Time is nothing but everything, not the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years. Yet this substanceless substance, this bending and shaping, this warping, this is the way we understand our world.”
At its heart, The Night Watchman is about a community fighting for their right to exist on the land that’s rightfully theirs. It’s a historical moment that I haven’t heard a lot about (oh, surprise surprise, American history tries to cover up its less savory bits…)
“We don’t want to leave our homes. We are poor, but even poor people can love their land. You do not need money to love your home.”
At times the story can be a little disjointed and I felt that some plotlines meandered and ended up nowhere. I would still definitely recommend this book – it’s long (clocking in at more than 400 pages) but it reads fast. Each chapter is relatively brief, and it almost feels like a collection of shorter stories that feed a larger overarching narrative. I do wish we would have gotten more of Thomas and less of Pixie/Patrice (especially after the waterjack storyline was so short-lived) but you won’t forget these characters and their journeys.
However, Erdrich’s writing is impeccable. I have a ton of passages bookmarked and I often went back and read certain paragraphs and sentences over and over again before moving on.
“He hated their approval just as much as he hated their condescension. And yet this truth was buried so deep inside him that its expression only emerged, in their presence, as a friendly smile.”
“Dread of the situation, ungraspable in its magnitude. Loneliness. The forces he was up against were implacable and distant. But from their distance they could reach out and sweep away an entire people.”
Thank you Harper Perennial for sending me a copy of this book!