Sherman Alexie's stature as a writer of stories, poems, and novels has soared over the course of his twenty-book, twenty-year career. His wide-ranging, acclaimed stories from the last two decades, from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven to his most recent PEN/Faulkner award?winning War Dances, have established him as a star in modern literature.
A bold and irreverent observer of life among Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, the daring, versatile, funny, and outrageous Alexie showcases all his talents in his newest collection, Blasphemy, where he unites fifteen beloved classics with fifteen new stories in one sweeping anthology for devoted fans and first-time readers.
Included here are some of his most esteemed tales, including "What You Pawn I Will Redeem", "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona", The Toughest Indian in the World", and "War Dances." Alexie's new stories are fresh and quintessential - about donkey basketball leagues, lethal wind turbines, the reservation, marriage, and all species of contemporary American warriors.
An indispensable collection of new and classic stories, Blasphemy reminds us, on every thrilling page, why Sherman Alexie is one of our greatest contemporary writers and a true master of the short story.
Cry Cry Cry
Forget crack, my cousin said, meth is the new war dancer.
World champion, he said.
Grand Entry, he said.
Five bucks, he said, give me five bucks and I'll give you enough meth to put you on a Vision Quest.
For a half-assed Indian, he sure talked full-on spiritual. He was a born-again Indian. At the age of twenty-five, he war danced for the first time. Around the same day he started dealing drugs.
I'm traditional, he said.
Rule is: whenever an Indian says he's traditional, you know that Indian is full of shit.
But, not long after my cousin started dancing, the powwow committee chose him as Head Man Dancer. Meaning: he was charming and popular. Powwow is like high school, except with more feathers and beads.
He took drugs, too, so he was doomed. But what Indian isn't doomed? Anyway, the speed made him dance for hours. Little fucker did somersaults. I've seen maybe three somersaulting war dancers in my own life.
You war ...
Alexie's talent for blending qualities that normally repel each other is not new, but in Blasphemy it is carefully curated so readers can experience the power of such combinations. The 31 stories in this collection would make a wonderful introduction into Alexie's work, but they also make for an absorbing way to fall in love all over again with his humorous, tragic world.
(Reviewed by Elizabeth Whitmore Funk).
Full Review (847 words).
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.
Alexie's hometown of Spokane, for example, is named for the Spokane tribe that Alexie's mother is a part of. In the Salish languages of the Pacific Northwest, Spokane translates to mean "children of the sun" or "sun ...
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