Thursday, October 19, 2006

Book Review: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

When I sat down to write out this review, the only thing I could say was "Wow!" Sherman Alexie first of all has a great style and can captivate you with his words alone. I would love to sit and talk with him for about 100 years. Then take another 100 years to sit back and absorb it all in. Not only does he have the great command of language but he also has a great insight into telling the stories from "the Rez." I read the updated version of the book published in 2005. This version has an intro by the author and 2 bonus stories. The original was published in 1993.

I was attracted to the book after watching the movie "Smoke Signals" which is based on the stories in this book. I was so pleased to find the stories that reminded me of the movie but even more so to find extra. Not only are these stories of life of Indians, for the politically correct, Native or Indigenous Americans, but they are also little lessons anyone can relate to. Also there are more than just stories there are "non-rhyming" narrative poems. Mr. Alexie draws great pictures with these.

Every story or poem will make you laugh a little and make you cry a little each time. I have chosen a couple of quotes from the book that will help illustrate what I mean by the lessons and realism.

"Winning all those contests makes you about as famous as the world's best xylophone player"

"I want to rasp into sober cryptology and say something dynamic but tonight is my laundry night. How do we imagine a new life when a pocketful of quarters weighs our possibilities down?"

I also picked out these quotes to "tease" you with some intrigue as to what may be in these stories.

This book tells tales of the hoplessness and the hopefulness of the poor and unfortunate, especially those that live on the reservations. Mr. Alexie has been criticized as pushing the stereotype of the "drunken Indian." But in the introduction he says if the truth is a stereotype then I can only tell truth. He also mentions how some of the stories may have some autobiographical nature to them.

If you are looking for a book that will run the emotional gamut (usually with one paragraph) then make it a point to read this book. There is not a bad story in this book.

I was hoping to write a review that would eventually get around to Mr. Alexie and he would be so inspired that he would contact me and we could hang out. But I'm afraid that all I can still say is "Wow!" This book left me emotionally tired, but definitely with a satisfied feeling. I'm going to get some emotional rest now.

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