Perma Red: A Novel


By Debra Magpie Earling

Blue Hen Books (Penguin), 2003.

In this beautiful first novel, set on the Flathead Reservation of Montana in the 1940s, Earling traces the youth and young adulthood of Louise White Elk and the men who try to win her heart and soul. A red-headed, mixed-blood temptress, Louise always has a man or two, none of whom is any good for her. Throughout, a third-person narrative alternates with a first-person account by Charlie Kicking Woman, the police officer who tracked down Louise when she ran away repeatedly as a child but whose interest in the woman is less than professional. Louise is also entangled with Baptiste Yellow Knife, who adheres to the old ways and resists all contact with whites and authorities. The abject poverty is keenly felt, as is the pride that allows one to prevail and the resignation that keeps one from aspiring to more. (Reviewed by Debbie Bogenschutz, Library Journal)

Debra Magpie Earling is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. She teaches at the University of Montana. This is her first novel.

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