I first heard of Sherman Alexie years ago, in college when a fellow undergraduate completed an independent study on his work. This was in the heyday of Ten Little Indians
, before the success of Alexie's young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
. I read Ten Little Indians
with pleasure, and then the dark mystery, Indian Killer
, but I wasn't consumed with the Sherman Alexie fever that plagued my classmate. Today, Alexie is known as a Native American writer who writes poetry, YA novels, short stories and adult fiction with his trademark laugh-out-loud humor and deft handling of controversial issues surrounding race, sex, violence, and substance abuse. Blasphemy
demonstrates the range of his talent, and has made me a late inductee to the Alexie fan brigade. The collection contains both established Alexie favorites, such as "The...
Beyond the Book
When reading Sherman Alexie's stories it's hard to not think about the ways that Native American language has been adapted and used by white settlers and contemporary multicultural America. Many American place names originated in Native American languages, though spelling, pronunciation, and other linguistic qualities have been adjusted and modified. Scholarship on the etymology of such names is often tricky, and occasionally defaults to guesswork where evidence is scarce. Some names, though, have fairly direct origins.