The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

by Louise Erdrich


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A New York Times Notable Book

For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved Native American tribe, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. To further complicate his quiet existence, a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda. Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Leopolda's piety, but these facts are bound up in his own secret. He is faced with the most difficult decision: Should he tell all and risk everything . . . or manufacture a protective history for Leopolda, though he believes her wonder-working is motivated solely by evil?

In a masterwork that both deepens and enlarges the world of her previous novels set on the same reservation, Louise Erdrich captures the essence of a time and the spirit of a woman who felt compelled by her beliefs to serve her people as a priest. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is a work of an avid heart, a writer's writer, and a storytelling genius.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060187279
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/03/2001
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

June 7, 1954

Place of Birth:

Little Falls, Minnesota


B.A., Dartmouth College, 1976; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1979

What People are Saying About This

Michiko Kakutani

“A deeply affecting narrative . . . by turns comical and elegiac, farcical, and tragic.”

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The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
grow More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adored this book. It was assigned reading for a class on Women Writers and I devoured every page. Erdrich is a talented, imaginative author and the story she tells is both interesting and intricate. I enjoyed the book so much I have asked my professors and fellow classmates to join me in an Erdrich book club this semester. We are all excited about it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can not say enough about the power, beauty and honesty of this story. Anyone wanting to search the human soul will do well to read this...and then read it again. It has the mystery, intensity and depth of another favorite book of mine: Walking the Trail, One Man's Journey Along the Cherokee Trail of Tears, by Jerry Ellis.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. It took me for a delightful spin as the fictional events unfolded. I liked the main character and the supporting characters that Ms. Erdrich created. I never guessed where it was going or where it would end. It made me examine my core beliefs and it made me laugh...I think it's in the same realm as Angels Ashes & should get a Pulitzer. Can't get much better than this. Also, ( the real test for me ) I will buy this book for friends...and I want to read more of her works. She is like Kingsolver, creating a story that is easy to read, yet thought provoking. You become the authors captive. This would be a good book for any book group to read. Buy and enjoy!
Joshua-Tim More than 1 year ago
Enchanting spirit, endearing characters with such deep revelation of their fears, strengths, greatness and human brokeness. Fr. Damian is a real piece of cake with so much to give yet there are rules that hold him back. Rules of his own making, rules imposed upon him by society and rock solid institutions. I think any person finds this in life. Choices of how one deals with it has consequenses. The author spells this out giving each letter breath, and each word spirit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the native american answer to Gunter Grass's Tin Drum. The main character of this book is the delightful, ancient and quirky Fr. Damien who is not quite what he seems. This book will make you laugh, cry and believe. The characters are so alive and real, so vital. I am a voracious reader and this book is one of the very best you will ever read. Few better. Only one thing did irritate me about this book. It had to end. And what the heck,I nominate Fr. Damien for Beatification.
ksmac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Engrossing story of a woman posing as a Catholic priest on an impoverished reservation and her "reports" to the pope of events she believes are miracles
juniperSun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Erdrich's writing has matured over the years. I wish I had saved all the quotable lines in this book. Agnes/Father Damien is much more introspective and thoughtful than I expect from a settler of that era and, in a way, not believable as a potentially real person. But the theme of the novel pulls you along.
shannonkearns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fantastically rich novel. Erdrich writes the story of a woman who, after a tragedy occurs, disguises herself as a male priest and goes to live among the Obijwe as a missionary. Erdrich weaves together the tales of the people on the reservation as well as the past and present of Agnes/Father Damien. The language of the novel is beautiful and the characters are rich and nuanced. There are a lot of time shifts in this book which can occasionally make it hard to follow. Events overlap and collapse in on themselves and you have to really pay attention. At times the book reads as a collection of shorter stories with an overarching theme. I loved the character of Father Damien; his interior life, the letters he writes to the Pope, the things he feels about falling into a calling that wasn't his own. The book has really interesting things to say about gender, about missionary work, and about the relations between First Nations people and white people. I really loved this book. I would highly recommend it to others.
bibliophileofalls on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit on the long side, I was caught up in the story early on, got bogged down in the (too long) middle and very much glad I stuck with it as the end was very amusing and also meaningful. A lot about the "spirit world" of the American Indians and how it conflicts/parallels the Catholic religion as told by a priest.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse frames itself as an extended epistolary scrapbook of the chaplaincy of Father Damien Modeste to the Ojibwe people. He writes to the pope as a final confession at the end of his life, professing two things: one, that he is a woman who stole the identity of a dead priest; and two, the Ojibwe community has been nurtured and flourished under his care despite the fraud.Much of the novel feels nearly picaresque, as readers encounter Ojibwe characters' lives and backgrounds, but stick most emotionally closely to Father Damien. Yet Father Damien (nee Agnes, an identity she assumes only in the privacy of her own home and as necessary) sees him/herself as a transitional point between God and the people. The shape-shifting of gender identity reflects this: the work of a missionary is to constructively be who the people need.One of Father Damien's final assignments is to investigate the possibility of sainthood for a member of his community named Sister Leopolda, a pious and passionate Ojibwe nun of whom Damien is nevertheless skeptical. Yet, as he looks for proof of sainthood among her antisocial behavior, and struggles for a response to Rome's hope that her passionate and extravagant character was divinely-inspired, Damien must also confront his own deceptive self-portrayal. Which is the greater good, to offer a community honesty, or comfort?Parts of this book were slow, due to the aforementioned distance put between the reader and the Ojibwe characters, but Damien was a nuanced and thought-provoking character to sustain the narrative.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just loved this book. Such a wonderful portrayal of Father Damien (actually a woman who finds her life as a priest through very strange circumstances) and the Ojibwa Indians on a Dakota reservation. The prose was beautiful and while the story went back and forth from past to present, Erdrich does such a fantastic job acquainting the reader with all the main characters and their stories this was not confusing to me. I felt like I was intimately acquainted with all of them, and loved reading about their lives. Some parts made me laugh and some parts made me sad, I had such compassion for most of these characters. Didn't want the book to end.
KinnicChick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A complicated and fascinating tale. Takes place on an Ojibwa Reservation in North Dakota. The main story is about Father Damien, a priest who loves and lives among the people, serving them for over 50 years, all that time concealing his real physical identity - beneath his old fashioned cassock, is the body of a woman. And nearing the end of his life he worries that he will be found out. Now the church has sent another priest to interview Damien and investigate the stories of a local nun to learn if her life was worthy of Sainthood. The complex story contains many interwoven relationships with several generations involved and the mysteries surrounding Sister Leopolda, but what truly shines is the love of Father Damien for his people to the very end. Beautifully written.
katydid-it on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not quite as good as Erdrich's "The Master Butcher's Singing Club", but I liked it quite a bit. A bit magical realism, a bit historical fiction.
ruthseeley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book made me laugh out loud more than once. It's probably my to-date-favourite Erdrich novel.
kambrogi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is as powerful and mesmerizing a tale as I have yet to read by this marvelous author. Here we have the story of an aging priest who reflects back on a life ministering to Ojibwe Indians on an isolated reservation. The story spans the better part of the 20th century, and is true to the times without being focused on history as much as character. The priest's astonishing secret of a double life, coupled with the fascinating characters who people his tale, and the haunting, lyrical style of Erdrich¿s spot-on magical realism result in an outstanding work of literary fiction.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Passion. This is a story about a young woman who becomes a nun, then becomes passionate about music and leaves the convent. She meets a farmer and lives a life of erotic love with him and devotional love to her music. And loses it all -- her music, her lover and part of her memory.She assumes the identity of Father Damien Modeste who is killed on his way to his posting at the Ojibwe reserve of Little No Horse. And spends the rest of her life devoted to the Ojibwe people and her duties as their priest. But all is not smooth sailing as passion for music and for fellow priest Gregory disturb her contentment.This is a wonderful story. Like other novels by Louise Erdrich, I loved the large cast of characters and her ability to make every one of them vivid and important. I loved the examination of human vs. divine passion, of what happiness really is, of whether certain gifts come from God or from the devil, and in the end, does it matter?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Louise Erdrich expertly wove a tale that spanned decades, with strands of humor and heartbreak, vulnerability and strength, and last, but not least, love and grace. This is one of my new all-time favorite books, and the story will linger with me.
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Cherbearshares More than 1 year ago
A "grounding" story. Pragmatic and absurd at the same time. Enjoyed story. Only one point did it bog down.
vanella More than 1 year ago
Reading this book will make you more human... The spiritual, social, and practical changes that came to North Dakota between 1910 and the present are described in the most lyrical way. Father Damien embodies many contradictions (woman and man; Catholic and Ojibwe world views; passion and endurance.) and yet life is unified in a seamless quest for the divine. Erdrich's descriptions of hunger, violence, and mental anguish are rivetting. Never sentimental, the whole book is infused with love. I plan to read it over and over again.
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