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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And now, from Spokane...
Pretty gutsy: Putting your old work next to your recent work and letting the reader compare them so easily. For Sherman Alexie, it works just fine.

Many of the stories in this volume, as always with Alexie, are vignettes, bringing us to a place or time or person and just introducing us. Others are short stories of people with needs that are met or not, filled...
Published 21 months ago by L. Wilson

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection but perhaps too much?
I fondly remember first reading Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which was a joyous breeze. This collection of short stories, Blasphemy, is much larger and much heavier. It contains a broad selection of works, so if you haven't read Sherman Alexie, it is a great way to get acquainted with him -- but i would probably suggest starting off with some of his earlier...
Published 21 months ago by M. Hyman


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And now, from Spokane..., October 7, 2012
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Pretty gutsy: Putting your old work next to your recent work and letting the reader compare them so easily. For Sherman Alexie, it works just fine.

Many of the stories in this volume, as always with Alexie, are vignettes, bringing us to a place or time or person and just introducing us. Others are short stories of people with needs that are met or not, filled with successes, failures, and not so easily labeled endings. As always, Alexie mostly writes from the view of Spokane Indians and their interactions on the rez and off the rez, with fellow tribe members and members of other tribes (not always Indian).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I have read pretty much everything that Alexie has written, so it was reading about old friends and meeting new ones. In the stories, I hear Alexie's voice, telling of his experiences, of his friends' and family's experiences, and of the experiences of all of us.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-Breaking, Funny, Brilliant, October 9, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was introduced to Sherman Alexie's work in college with his excellent YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and read his short-story "The Toughest Indian in the World" shortly after. What struck me immediately about his work was his frank, conversational writing style, his characters' humor in the face of tragedy and emptiness. Alexie doesn't try to paint pretty, poetic pictures- instead he shows the world as he sees it, all the ugliness and injustice of humanity, but also its compassion. These traits can be found in all of the stories collected in this volume.

Alexie gets people, and not just Indian people. Oh, he does a wonderful job of showing what it's like to be Indian, from the importance of tradition and storytelling to the confliction over assimilation. He doesn't shy away from writing about the really painful stuff, like the oppressive hopelessness many Indians experience. This is not tear-jerking sentimentality but a frank, realistic portrayal of what life is like. There's no preaching here. Though Alexie gives realistic portrayals of Indians, what really surprised me was his portrayal of White people. Forgive me if I'm focusing on the wrong thing, but, as a White person, I could really relate to these characters. When it comes to books about multi-cultural interaction, I'm used to seeing White characters being presented as oblivious to racial matters, sometimes well-intentioned but almost always needing to learn some kind of moral. These characters are not like that. These characters suffer from racial dissatisfaction and guilt, and feelings of racelessness and cultural void. They sometimes do racist things, but if you're paying attention, you'll gain an understanding of why they do these things. Sometimes they want to be heroes and save the Indians to assuage their own racial guilt. Sometimes they use Indians (and others) to try to bring cultural meaning into their own lives. And sometimes, the Indians in these stories do these things, too. Everyone's trying to overcome the problems and divisions caused by race, and just by being human. There aren't really good guys and bad guys here, just people struggling with the world they live in and their own identities.

I related to and cared about these characters. The stories were interesting because I really wanted to find out what happened to them (not to mention the strong plotting and engaging writing style). There was only one that started to drag a bit for me, quite impressive for a volume this size.

IN SHORT: Sherman Alexie is an amazing author who writes frankly about the human condition. He doesn't make things seem brighter than they are or sentimentalize about tragedy. His characters are strong no matter their race; they have realistic motivations and behaviors. I loved them most when they used humor in the face of their pain. The stories here are interesting because you want to know what happens to them, plus the writing and the plotting are interesting and engaging. Sherman Alexie is a must-read author for those wanting to explore the human condition.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Indian' stories that speak to the human condition, September 28, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Reading Sherman Alexie's stories has long been on my bucket list, so I was quite happy for the chance to order a copy of his latest book to read and review. And I was not disappointed. This substantial tome contains some classic stories as well as new ones to provide many happy hours reading and re-reading. The stories vary widely in length---some are only a page and a half long, a couple are over 100 pages--but all are captivating and surprising. Nearly all of the stories are written in first person, and sound like authentic experiences, no matter how bizarre they might be. From reading about Alexie online, I know that a few are autobiographical (such as "Indian Education"), yet even the few that he wrote from a female perspective sound convincingly personal and real. Even though his stories all (as far as I can tell) involve Indians (he never uses the the term "Native American") who live in Washington state, such as Spokane and Lummi tribes; and I am white woman who has never even set foot in Washington state, I still found the stories personally affecting. There are themes of longing, belonging, alienation, family, death, among others. Many of the stories are poetic in language and metaphor, some even enigmatic. For instance, the one called "Salt", I still don't completely understand. Some are to be felt rather than comprehended literally. So far my favorite is the one about donkey basketball, though it is fraught with tragedy. This is a book for a mature audience that doesn't mind a little blasphemy. There is sex, disease, poverty, alcoholism, violence, swearing, and death. Yet Alexie pulls it off with such ironic lightness and humor that it is enjoyable to read.

Some ideas to experience Alexie's work online: watch his readings and comedy presentations on youtube, read some of his wonderful poetry at poetryfoundation dot org, watch the film "Smoke Signals"--which is based on one of his short stories--on netflicks. I found them all very interesting and they make you think and feel. I hope you enjoy these, and I definitely recommend this new book by Sherman Alexie.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New stories, October 1, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Blasphemy" by Sherman Alexie is a collection of short stories, about half of which are newly published. The old stories are from a number of his previous books such as " The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven". I must admit that I am a fan of Sherman Alexie and have read most of what he has written. His stories are funny, provocative, and very original. He is a great story teller with the wit of Mark Twain and has the odd character types like the Minnesota writer Louise Erdrich. I had fun reading many of the stories for the second time and found even more to enjoy. Some of the new stories move away from his more typical Native American subject matter and move into more general subjects. Overall if you have never read Alexie you are in for a treat. I highly recommend "Blasphemy"
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection but perhaps too much?, October 17, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I fondly remember first reading Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which was a joyous breeze. This collection of short stories, Blasphemy, is much larger and much heavier. It contains a broad selection of works, so if you haven't read Sherman Alexie, it is a great way to get acquainted with him -- but i would probably suggest starting off with some of his earlier works first. For me, however, I struggled some with some of the themes in the stories. The collection feels, in many cases, heavy. This isn't to say that they aren't well written -- they are -- but having so many stories together starts to pool together themes -- and for me that didn't work nearly as well as the shorter collections. It could also be that i missed the quirky character development present in other books of his. Having said that, there are certain stories from within the collection that really stand out -- and it is worth reading just for those.

In short, definitely worth reading if you are a Sherman Alexie fan, and I'm glad that it is part of my collection, but it didn't have the same joyous charm as I had hoped.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE AUTHOR SKILLFULLY PORTRAYS THE NATIVE AMERICAN CONDITION, September 1, 2012
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Sherman Alexie's BLASPHEMY is a collection of new and selected stories about the Native-American experience. You might have to persist at first, because his work is full of anger, pathos, black comedy and outrageous situations. It took me a while to get settled. It wasn't pleasant to read about a degenerate hitchhiker crawling in bed to fondle and spear the kindly guy that gave him a ride. Or to discover rampant meth usage is rotting teeth on the rez. Or to peek in on many savage wife beatings. I needed some sunshine. But, as I read on, I began to see the light and feel the passion of a young Indian writer who had much to say, knew how to say it, and who he wanted to say it to.

One of his stories, "The Search Engine," comes as close as I've ever seen to explaining the Indian search for authenticity and acceptance. The author posits that because the proud first inhabitants of this land have been reduced to feeling like nomads, a self-hating and self-doubting persona is now ingrained in them. Alexie writes that Indian tribes have been turned into nationalistic sects. He is attempting to illuminate that injustice.

His stories are gritty and profane, full of alcohol and depressed minds. I wanted to yell at his characters, urging them to suck it up and try to make something of themselves. But Alexie trudges right along, unapologetically portraying them as he sees them, as they struggle to find their place in both the white and the Indian world. I now realize how unwelcome they feel in either place. When they try to meld with the whites, the dark people of the reservation dismiss them as traitorous, too willing to toss aside strong tribal customs and family. The whites are uncomfortable with the Indian presence; demeaning them, stereotyping them, and adopting stand-offish postures when dealing with them.

Alexie admits he was a mouthy, opinionated and arrogant youngster on his reservation. He says nothing has changed over the years and his writing bears that out. But I get the impression that he is impatient with the contemporary Indian's demeanor. Some of his characters, although flawed and unruly, have been given dignity and a sense of purpose in their approach to life. His stories celebrate that strength and seem to urge more of it.

I have always been a little uncomfortable with my lack of knowledge about the Native Americans in our country. I recently moved to the Pacific Northwest and see a lot of Indians but still don't know much about them or their life. Sherman Alexie is a recognized observer and chronicler of this terrain and, as I read his book, I realize there is much to learn. Alexie will certainly be a wonderful instructor and I plan to pick his brain through his books.

Suppress your discomfort and open your senses to Alexie's portrayal of his world. This book, although I wouldn't call it enjoyable, is thought-provoking and a masterful exposé of the Native-American condition. It's an enlightening journey.

Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, as usual, September 25, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A collection of some of Alexie's best stories and some new ones. I have always felt a kinship with his outsider point-of-view. His stories, as his narrators witness, sometimes helplessly, the messes they and others make of their lives, are stirring and sometimes bleak, but always worthwhile. The people in his stories kill, dance, pick up hitchhikers, go to prison, get their feet cut off, doubt healing songs, sing healing songs, get MRIs, miss their fathers, get angry at their lesbian daughters, play basketball well or badly, sleep with other Indians for reasons of their own, and scheme to get their grandmother's regalia back from the pawn shop. Everything is in this excellent collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily good!, September 23, 2012
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Daffy Du (Del Mar, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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I had never heard of Sherman Alexie until a close friend was terminally ill and distributing her considerable library among her friends. She urged me to take several books by Alexie, which I did, but I hadn't read them when I saw that Blasphemy was being offered through Vine. I ordered it mainly in homage to her. After finishing it, I'm so impressed that I'm keen to read the others.

Blasphemy is a collection of Alexie's short stories, some of which were published in his earlier collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Ranging in length from a couple of pages to novella size, they are accessible, powerful, often funny and always moving. Some will make you uncomfortable, some will delight, but all ring true, capturing slices of modern Indian life in the Pacific Northwest, where he lives. More than just the insights they provide into Native American culture and life on and off a reservation, they are about universal themes--love, family, belonging, alienation, poverty, humor, and much more. But Alexie doesn't hammer home the themes in hamfisted prose; he weaves them subtly throughout. It's the characters and the situations that will draw you in and keep you reading. Some of my favorites were "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," "Salt," "Emigration" and "The Search Engine," but they were all good, and I literally couldn't put the book down. Alexie is a masterful writer, as gifted as one of my other favorites for short fiction, Ethan Canin, which is high praise indeed.

If you enjoy short stories and American writers, you won't go wrong with Blasphemy.

Five very enthusiastic stars.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trademark combination of wit and insight., August 31, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Few contemporary authors explore the human condition with as much wit and frankness as Sherman Alexie. Sure, he tends to focus on Native American (specifically Spokane) culture, a fact that he sometimes--purposely--shoves down your throat. But his stories really speak about all of us--sometimes our triumphs, all too often our weaknesses. And he makes you laugh while you examine yourself...a rare feat indeed.

BLASPHEMY is a combination of 15 previously-collected stories and 15 new ones. It is as strong a collection as Alexie's originals, with one caveat: a whole lot of Sherman Alexie goes a long way. (Plus, if you have the earlier collections, you may be skeptical about paying a high price for the same stories.) His writing, while rarely short of insightful, can often be self-indulgent; and having close to 500 pages in one volume is a bit much to handle all at one time. (We'll say nothing of throwing his own photo on the front cover, which yes has been done before, but it's still slightly egotistical.)

Still, for Alexie fans, BLASPHEMY is almost certainly one you'll want to pick up. I'm not entirely sure which stories are new (THE LONE RANGER AND TONGO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN and TEN LITTLE INDIANS are the only collections of his I've read), but I can tell you that the majority of these pieces are exactly what we've come to expect: funny, dark, haunting, memorable, and emotionally powerful. Alexie's work may be a bit much to handle all at once, but taken as a whole, he's certainly one of the more insightful and intriguing authors at work today. Think of BLASPHEMY as a "greatest hits," with some sneak peaks of things to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A view of a lifestyle many of us don't see, May 16, 2013
By 
MNReader (Minnesota, USA) - See all my reviews
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While reading the short stories, I am always mentally seeing Sherman Alexie being interviewed by Bill Moyers. Alexie is a writer who does not pull any punches and he invites the reader into a lifesyle (the rez) that most of don't even know exists. While it would be easy to feel sorry for the people on the rez, Alexie just tells the story of a life that is both hard and full of natural meaning. Although his writing will be edgy for some, the stories grab you and keep you involved with short hard hitting descriptions and narratives. Peridoically, the author places a philosophical gem in front of the reader - a gem that makes you stop and reread the section again.
Ah, Sherman, you are truly a gift to us. May your Smoke Signals continue for a long time.
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Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories
Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories by Sherman Alexie (Paperback - October 8, 2013)
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