Picks and Pans Review: The Crown of Columbus

UPDATED 06/10/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/10/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich

There is nothing terribly wrong with this first joint effort by the separately celebrated husband (he's the author of A Yellow Raft in Blue Water and The Broken Cord) and wife (Love Medicine and The Beet Queen). But one expects their talents to add up to something more than this uneasy mix of scholarly exegesis and the picaresque—something like Romancing the Stone Meets Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Protagonist Vivian Twostar, who "belongs to the lost tribe of mixed bloods...Irish and Coeur d'Alene and Spanish and Navajo and God knows what else" is an assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth. She has an impossible teenage son, a short, fierce, disapproving, terrific grandmother and a lackadaisical approach to her push for tenure.

Vivian might be less lackadaisical but for the fact that any minute she is scheduled to give birth to a daughter, the product of her erstwhile romance with Roger Williams, an immaculately dressed, immaculately groomed, unbearably stuffy professor-poet who is writing an epic poem about Christopher Columbus. This is not a match made in heaven: Whereas Roger is diligent, Vivian is dilatory. He's uncomfortable with closeness, she wants commitment. They do have great sex.

When, in doing her own research on Columbus, Vivian stumbles on apparent fragments from the explorer's diary, she and Roger are hurled into a tumultuous adventure complete with con man, kidnapping, karate and caves.

Erdrich and Dorris ultimately can't decide what this book should be: an adventure romance, a thriller, a discourse on academic responsibility or revisionist history. As a result, they succeed fully at nothing. (HarperCollins, $21.95)

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine

Advertisement

From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners



Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters