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One Stick Song Paperback – Unabridged, June 1, 2000


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One Stick Song + First Indian on the Moon + The Business of Fancydancing:  Stories and Poems
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 91 pages
  • Publisher: Hanging Loose Press; 1st edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882413768
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882413768
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Whether slyly identifying irony as a white man's invention, or deftly moving from prose-like multilayered narratives to formal poetry and song structures, this fifth collection from poet (The Business of Fancydancing; etc.), novelist (Indian Killer; etc.) and screenwriter (Smoke Signals) Alexie demonstrates many of his skills. Most prominent perhaps is his ability to handle multiple perspectives and complex psychological subject matter with a humor that feeds readability: "Successful non-Indian writers are viewed as well-informed about Indian life. Successful mixed-blood writers are viewed as wonderful translators of Indian life. Successful Indian writers are viewed as traditional storytellers of Indian life." Poems such as the title one, a haunting chant for lost family, and "The Theology of Cockroaches," do some vivid scene setting: "...never/ woke to a wall filled with cockroaches/ spelling out my name, never/ stepped into a dark room and heard/ the cockroaches baying at the moon." At times Alexie allows his language, within the lineated poems almost exclusively, to slacken into clich?. The opening, multipart prose piece "The Unauthorized Autobiography of Me" is arguably the strongest in the book, juxtaposing roughly chronological anecdotes with "An Incomplete List of People I Wish Were Indian" and the formula "Poetry = anger x imagination." Other poems tell of "Migration, 1902" and "Sex in Motel Rooms"; describe "How it Happens" and "Second Grief"; and develop "The Anatomy of Mushrooms." Alexie's latest is as powerful and challenging as his previous excellent books, and should only add readers to his ever-widening audience. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Alexie, author most recently of the short story collection The Toughest Indian in the World [BKL Ap 1 00], expresses an anger as large and molten as the earth's core; but like the earth, which conceals its heat beneath forests and oceans, he cloaks his with mordant humor and a rough-and-ready lyricism. In this bracing collection of poems and poem-tight prose pieces, he targets lies and hypocrisy. Alexie mocks the mealymouthed cant of the politically correct and, in a lashing poem titled "Open Books," the arrogance of a certain ilk of poet, then, elsewhere, tempers his rage with tenderness. His hard-hitting poems are loosely knit and suitable for performance, but his prose pieces are constructed as diabolically as barbed wire, especially the clever yet emotionally resonant essay "The Warriors," in which musings on baseball segue into thoughts on friendship and such frank disclosures as his confession that although television once had him convinced that white women were sexier than brown women, life taught him the truth about love. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Well, suffice to say he wasn't.
Robert Beveridge
At times his poems are very jovial and lighthearted, and at other times they are stark and quite sad.
J.R. Burge
I found Alexie's voice in this piece to remind me more of Kurt Vonnegut and George Carlin.
Michael J. Mazza

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By James Stripes on June 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Sherman Alexie's _One Stick Song_ offers more of what readers are learning to expect from one of the most talented young writers in the United States. Alexie's poetry offers comic perspectives toward contemporary Indian life in America. His writing exposes the twisted logic of stereotypes that infect liberal romanticism, challenges and reconstructs basic national, civil, and religious myths, and plays-in a most serious manner-at the edges of our language.
Alexie is the master of the one-liner, and every book has many memorable lines. He also does exceptional work with poetic form. Some of his poems have enlivened such old forms as blank verse, sestinas, sonnets, and epics. Yet his poetry remains accessible to readers who find the poetry taught in schools stale and obtuse. (Now, of course, Alexie is fast becoming one of the poets taught in schools.) In my teaching, I have had many students tell me they cannot read poetry, and then become seekers of poetry after exposure to a few of Alexie's poems.
Alexie's poetry is not for readers who are insecure in their beliefs. His approach-on the page, and in person-is aptly described as in-your-face. In _One Stick Song_ he offers lines that had me cheering his attack on a liberal scared cow that I've been afraid to confront with the profanity he employs (perhaps the only reasonable response). But he does not leave my own cherished delusions safe, driving me to reexamine basic assumptions.
The four-star rating I've given this book does not reflect the strength of the book when measured against other living poets. 4.8 stars would be more accurate. Rather, the rating reflects my disappointment in this book compared to Alexie's _Summer of Black Widows_. The earlier book is Alexie's best poetry.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on June 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
"One Stick Song" is a superb blend of poetry and prose by Sherman Alexie. The back cover notes that the author is a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, and indeed the main topic of this book is American Indian life and literature. Although Whitman is invoked in one of the pieces ("The American Artificial Limb Company"), I found Alexie's voice in this piece to remind me more of Kurt Vonnegut and George Carlin. The book is a mixture of outrage, wacky humor, and tenderness, with some really cutting satiric elements.
Some of my favorite pieces are as follows. "The Unauthorized Autobiography of Me" is an excellent, irony-rich extended prose poem which looks at, among other things, the business and politics of Native American literary production. This piece contains the memorable line, "Poetry = Anger x Imagination." "Open Books" is a satiric poem about poets and poetry itself. In this poem Alexie writes, "Let us now celebrate the lies / that should be true because they tell us so much." "The Mice War" is an unsettling, violent poem that takes place on a reservation landfill. This is just a small sampling of the treasures in "One Stick Song," a book which moves Alexie onto my list of favorite United States poets.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Schwanda on November 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Call me biased, but I consider this Alexie's best colleciton of poetry yet. In it he moves away from his typical sad and revealing descriptions of the life he saw as a child on the res, and moved more into himself, revealing things to us about himself that we only guessed before. This makes his past works make more sense and gives readers a greater understanding of what goes on in Alexie's mind. These poems and stories seem older, wiser somehow. I believe Alexie has jumped a rung in this book, out of the "infantile" works of yore and into something greater. He becomes a Master of the Masters.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wildness VINE VOICE on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
One Stick Song is Sherman Alexie's most personal work yet. In these poems and stories, he reveals a side of himself that he has never truly exposed before... possibly even to himself. It is obvious that Sherman is finding the deepest parts of his soul in recent years, probably helped along by the birth of his as revealed by the final poem in the book "Sugar Town."

I have read all of Alexie's works to date, and mostly in the order they were written and I have enjoyed reading the growth of this truly great writer.

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

A Guide to my Book Rating System:

1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
It should come as no surprise to any viewer of Smoke Signals that the writing, almost the singing voice of Sherman Alexie is hypnotic, even addictive. The beauty of the song invites you deeper and deeper through layer upon layer until you are completely immersed in all its glory; then you are belched up with a wry joke like Jonah beached by the whale. All observations may be intact, but you have been to another place, and must see the world differently ever after. No matter how afraid we are of the enlightenment and its obligations, the experience and its effects continue to allow us the opportunity to do the necessary healing work. To call it cathartic seems trite and shallow, even false. It is magical.
I knew a man who drowned
in three inches of water collected in a tire track.
I wish I could name him here but tribal laws forbid me
to name the dead. These laws are aboriginal
and more important than any poem.
But I want to give him a name
that means what I say so I name him Hamlet, King Lear Othello, Noah, Adam. from Water 3, One Stick Song.
Nancy Lorraine, Reviewer
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