We began last night’s book club discussion of Louise Erdrich’s The Painted Drum by focusing on the drum itself: its metaphysical qualities, its unique history, its cultural significance, and its power as a literary symbol.
We then talked about the author’s conscious decision to employ a multi-voiced narrative technique, and generally agreed that this strategy served the novel well.
One member of the group then made an interesting connection to the exhibition Picasso and American Art, which we had toured earlier under the guidance of the amazingly enthusiastic Gary White (his passion for the art is surpassed only by his encyclopedic knowledge).
Our fellow reader likened Erdrich’s use of multiple narrative perspectives to Picasso’s cubist approach to multiple visual planes.
I’d never thought of that, and was once again humbled by the wide range of insights provided by the participants of our group. I realized that’s part of what makes viewing art and discussing literature as a group such an incredible social experience: you just never know what’s going to pop up next.
I can hardly wait.