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Smoke Signals Paperback – July 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sherman Alexie is a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian. He earned a 1994 Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, was a citation winner for the PEN/Hemingway Award for the Best First Book of Fiction, and was named one of Granta's Best of the Young American Novelists. Alexie is the author of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven , which served as the basis for a film that premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His book Reservation Blues won him the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award. Alexie's several books of poetry include I Would Steal Horses, Old Shirts & New Skins, First Indian on the Moon , and The Summer of Black Widows.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (July 8, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786883928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786883929
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By WichacpiHoskila VINE VOICE on December 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I work as a psychotherapist with adolescents and young adults. I use "Smoke Signals" with them by assigning them to rent and view the movie, which is always enjoyable because it's witty, humorous, wise, and significant. The movie poses two essential questions: 1) If someone else has mistreated, hurt, abandoned, or disrespected you, is it possible to forgive them if they've NEVER asked forgiveness, never done anything to "put it right," never returned in atonement to undo the damage, and never begtun to deserve it? And 2) if it *is* possible--and it may not be--SHOULD you? Because if you do, doesn't that just make you a willing victim by letting them "get away" with what they did, and pretending the relationship is okay again?
Victor lives in the tension of this dilemma. As a 12-year-old youth, he witnessed the effects of alcohol on his family. His father vascillated between being loving and instantly "turning" to become hostile, violent, and humiliating to the young boy. Victor finds himself becoming more deeply embarrassed by his family's domestic abuse and alcohol use, even defiantly scolding his own father that his favorite Indian is "Nobody...nobody...nobody!"
Victor's mother awakens the next morning to see Victor angrily smashing his father's beer bottles on the back of his father's picup truck (the two things he believes his father loves more than him), and the epiphany stuns the mother, who insists on an immediate end to family drunkenness. Proving Victor's fears true, the father--forced to choose between alcohol and family--flees the family, and never returns. It is within that unchanged arrangement that his father dies, 8 years later, having never returned home.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
To me this book had an effect it showed a normal life style of an a native american instead of a regular drunk indian. This book does not hide anything it gives all expressive and shows lots of details of how the real world is.Not only is this book a reference for my class, but also a look back in my history. Victor has a mirror reflection in my life because of the way he was raised. With all the alcohol and verbal abuse it probably reflects on most peoples life, if not it will most definetly make a change in the future. Alexi is a very good writer and i hope to meet him, and i wish he can come out with another book like that.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By dcchambers@hotmail.com on February 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having seen this movie as a preview on another video, the subject was intriguing. The storyline was a breath of fresh air. The unfolding of the details of the common bond the two friends shared and the understanding of the father's behavior the son came to understand following his death was superbly done.
I found the constant talking of the one friend, although bordering on nerve-racking, was actually humorous in nature and the character was one to love. It was rather like Laurel & Hardy, straight and funny guy tactics, rarely seen today without one character overpowering the other.
I would highly recommend this to the younger set and young adult males who are having problems with relations with their fathers.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
It should be noted that this screenplay is drawn from Alexie's short story collection "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." The movie, the book and the screenplay are the work of a writer of the first water ... more power to Sherman Alexie!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By wasque@mindspring.com on July 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Based on his story entitled "This is what it means to say Phoenix, Arizona," Sherman Alexie's first screenplay expands, with grace and precision, the ideas presented in the short story. The movie is excellent, and the screenplay (impeccably executed by the actors/actresses) contributes to this, through both its jokes and its image-invoking monologues, which give Alexie's characters the infinite depth that, as real people, they deserve.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jody Gentian Bower on September 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Every now and then I find a book or a movie, ostensibly about a culture not my own, that does more than educate me; it reaches into my heart and shows me what we share instead of where we differ. This movie was one of those experiences. Anyone who has had a difficult relationship with their father will relate to this story. Beautifully acted, and some very funny moments too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JazzFeathers on September 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the script of the film Sherman Alexie based on his first short story collection "The Lone-Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven".
It's the first time I read a script and it was an interesting experience. It's interesting to see how the story was created and how it changed for various reasons. There is a long section of notes at the end of the scrip where Alexie relates all the changes in the transition from the script to the film. I didn't imagine so many different reasons could be behind a change. Sure, there are ideas the author came up with later on, there are ideas that worked on the paper, but not on the screen. There are pace consideration and there are actors improvising (and this was the most fascinating part for me).
But there are also extremely chancy reasons. For example a scene at the beginning of the film - the one where Victor plays basketball with some friends - that was written as happening outdoor, in the film eventually happened indoor because the day of the shooting there was a heavy rain raging outside.

But the most interesting parts, in my opinion, are those that are in the script and not in the film. Some give a new light to the characters.
My favourite is the argument between Thomas and Victor in the car, at night, before the car accident. That dialogue is kind of short it the film. In the scrip, it's quite a bit longer and it hints at Victor being jealous of Thomas because Thomas could accept Arnold the way Victor never could and so he created a bond with him that Victor (Arnold's son) didn't have.
This shed a completely new light (at least for me) on the two characters' relation. It makes a lot of sense inside the story, it makes the contrast between the two characters more meaningful and I'm very sorry it disappeared from the film. But I'm happy I had the opportunity to read it here.
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