A fantastic collection of stories from one of America's most distinguished writers.
Sherman Alexie is the author of Reservation Blues, Indian Killer, and The Toughest Indian in the World. His books have earned him a citation from the PEN Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction, the Before Columbus Foundation's America Book Award and the Murray Morgan Prize.
Alexie's stories focus primarily on Indians (rarely "Native Americans") living in this country today, but in no way does that make his fiction totemic. Instead, Alexie's compassion for his characters, directness in storytelling, and wry and cautiously optimistic worldview transcend any label-in many ways, the 11 stories in this collection are everyone's stories. Alexie skillfully glances back at the provincial Indian life already explored in his previous work-in "The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above," for instance, whose Spokane narrator reflects on growing up with a nonconformist mother. But his strength lies in the exploration of contemporary issues, as in "Lawyer's League," in which an ambitious political intern imagines the damage to his career when a pickup basketball game turns into a fist fight, or "Can I Get a Witness?" in which the aftermath of a restaurant bombing results in some joint soul searching by two strangers who have a brief but revelatory encounter. The stories sometimes feel loose and ragged, but Alexie has the ability (and heart) to make even a brief, patchy sketch of a few choice moments resonate and move the reader. Recommended.-Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Fluent, exuberant and supremely confident, this outstanding collection shows Alexie (The Toughest Indian in the World, etc.) at the height of his powers. Humor plays a leading role in the volume's nine stories, but it's love, both romantic and familial, that is the lens through which Alexie examines his compelling characters. His range stretches from the strange to the poignantly antic. In "Can I Get a Witness" an Indian woman is caught inside a restaurant when a suicide bomber blows himself up; in "Do Not Go Gentle" a father buys a vibrator dubbed "Chocolate Thunder" and uses it as a spiritual talisman to successfully bring his seriously injured baby out of a coma. In one of the book's finest stories, "The Search Engine," Corliss Joseph, an intrepid 19-year-old Spokane Indian college student, finds an obscure 1973 volume of Indian poetry and tracks down the author, an aging forklift operator with painful memories of his foray into the literary world. Basketball looms large in a number of these stories, from the thoughtful "Lawyer's League" to the superb final entry, "What Ever Happened to Frank Snake Church?" Loose, jaunty and salted with long, hilarious, inspired riffs-"What kind of life had she created for herself? She was a laboratory mouse lost in the capitalistic maze. She was an underpaid cow paying one-tenth mortgage on a three-bedroom, two-bath abattoir"-these are still cohesive, powerful narratives, expanding on Alexie's continuing theme of what it means to be an Indian culturally, politically and personally. This is a slam dunk collection sure to score with readers everywhere. (June) Forecast: Few short-story collections have the potential to sell like this one. Alexie's ever-growing readership, plus strong backing from Grove-including a 125,000 first printing, $100,000 promo budget and an 18-city author tour-is likely to land this stellar volume on many bestseller lists. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Nine extraordinary short stories set in and around the Seattle area, featuring Spokane Indians from all walks of urban life. In "The Search Engine," a student of English poetry stumbles upon a book of poems by another member of her tribe and goes on a vision quest to find him. But no brief description does justice to the rich complexity of this story or the others; adjectives such as incisive, ironic, emotional, political, tragic, triumphant, angry, loving, exuberant, and wise come to mind, and Alexie puts everything together in a deceptively casual, often dazzling way. In bursts of exposition, using colloquial language and uncensored thoughts, he creates characters so richly layered and situations so colorfully detailed that readers finish each tale with a feeling of having encountered a real person or event. They include a woman caught in a terrorist attack; a homeless, alcoholic man on a quest to recapture his grandmother's lost regalia; a lawyer who pays too high a cost for being too focused on his ambition; and a feminist mother, as remembered by her adult son. Woven throughout are themes that satirize Native American images, such as the great storyteller and the spiritual master; yet even as the characters are self-deprecating about these stereotypes, Alexie slyly, in unexpected ways, ultimately demonstrates their truth. Those familiar with this author's earlier work will find his charm, originality, and sheer humanity in full measure here.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"[Written] with engaging humour and acuity... These stories irreverently explore the yearning for the sacred" * Guardian *
"Arresting and funny" * Times Literary Supplement *
"Intensely absorbing...Like Raymond Chandler, small deeds ripple through these lives without necessarily changing them, but Alexie's rich tales will certainly affect, if not change, yours" * Scotsman *
"Alexie's painfully funny and astute stories chase the dilemmas of the Spokane diaspora, stripped of any myth or presumption of what Indian might be" * Independent *
"A potent collection that takes a swipe at modern life and gives it a universal human face" * Herald *