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Ten Little Indians Paperback – March 17, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (March 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080214117X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802141170
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sherman Alexie, a gifted poet and storyteller, plows familiar yet fertile ground in his third collection of short stories, Ten Little Indians. The book contains nine stories populated by at least one American Indian (usually of Alexie's Spokane heritage, and mostly living in Seattle), but "little" is a bit of a misnomer; the book addresses human (not necessarily Indian), rituals, ceremony, love, loss, insecurity over life choices, and personal sacrifices. A lot of intense basketball is played, too.

When Alexie is at his best, his stories function at a profoundly sad level, where broken down characters are broken down even more, but are fierce-willed enough to attempt Phoenix-like transitions. Unfortunately, the weakest stories appear first, where characters and situations seem far too contrived or forced, the dialogue wooden, and questions or exclamatory sentences appear annoyingly in bunches. In the last half of the book, a married couple, once intensely in love but now lost in life's routines, deal with infidelity ("Do You Know Where I Am?"); a bright basketball prospect attempts a comeback--twenty years after giving up the game ("Whatever Happened to Frank Snake Church?"); and a transient Indian finds his grandmother's regalia in a pawn shop and seeks to quickly raise the lofty purchase price ("What You Pawn I Will Redeem"). Brilliant turns of phrase abound, such as ceremonies being "pitiful cries to a disinterested God," or when a gym rat plays against "Basketball-Democrats who came to the court alone and ran with anybody and Basketball-Republicans who traveled in groups of five and only ran with each other." Ten Little Indians is an uneven collection, but contains some significant, memorable stories. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Fluent, exuberant and supremely confident, this outstanding collection shows Alexie (The Toughest Indian in the World, etc.) at the height of his powers. Humor plays a leading role in the volume's nine stories, but it's love, both romantic and familial, that is the lens through which Alexie examines his compelling characters. His range stretches from the strange to the poignantly antic. In "Can I Get a Witness" an Indian woman is caught inside a restaurant when a suicide bomber blows himself up; in "Do Not Go Gentle" a father buys a vibrator dubbed "Chocolate Thunder" and uses it as a spiritual talisman to successfully bring his seriously injured baby out of a coma. In one of the book's finest stories, "The Search Engine," Corliss Joseph, an intrepid 19-year-old Spokane Indian college student, finds an obscure 1973 volume of Indian poetry and tracks down the author, an aging forklift operator with painful memories of his foray into the literary world. Basketball looms large in a number of these stories, from the thoughtful "Lawyer's League" to the superb final entry, "What Ever Happened to Frank Snake Church?" Loose, jaunty and salted with long, hilarious, inspired riffs-"What kind of life had she created for herself? She was a laboratory mouse lost in the capitalistic maze. She was an underpaid cow paying one-tenth mortgage on a three-bedroom, two-bath abattoir"-these are still cohesive, powerful narratives, expanding on Alexie's continuing theme of what it means to be an Indian culturally, politically and personally. This is a slam dunk collection sure to score with readers everywhere.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This book is very powerful it make you think, laugh, cry and feel pain.
John I. Provan
Within each short story, Alexie manages to build both characters and plots that are highly convincing and ordinary, despite the remarkable nature of them.
Samantha Thompson
This is the best writing I've seen from Sherman Alexie since The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven.
Zeeshan Hasan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Verita VINE VOICE on August 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I thought the stories in this collection were all worth reading, although some were better than others. Other reviewers have said Alexie is getting redundant, well, I don't know about that. I enjoyed his book, Indian Killer, but I haven't read all his other short stories. I loved his perspective on love, success, terrorism, and the women's movement, and found that it was not so different from my own, a woman of similar age who grew up in an Italian-Irish-American household where the only books in the house were mine, and the people were, in my opinion, way too accepting of their "station in life," whatever the hell that is. So I felt like I was reading a book written by a Native American cousin of mine--when some white folks were here killing his ancestors, others were back in Europe starving mine, regardless of being the same color. Now, we all have to deal with the same issues, fear of terrorism, adultery, losing a child, failing our dreams, making it in the dominant culture, being ourselves. Anyway, I recommend this book. It's not perfect, but it shines.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Carol Toscano VINE VOICE on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"but it's way tough on the rez." From The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above.

The thing about Sherman Alexie is that he examines life from the inside out. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that he examines life from the reservation out. He has a way of pointing out these specific characteristics and challenges that one faces growing up on the reservation and beyond. But when you pay close attention to what he's saying (in such beautiful language), you find yourself relating to an emotional landscape that is universal in all of humanity no matter what race, religion, nationality blah blah blah. One is ultimately left with the impression of a genuine and credible storyteller who has experienced personal conflict, triumph, tragedy and joy within the boundaries of the reservation, then again in the vastness of life outside of the reservation and finally within the borderless limits of his own mind on a much higher and more profound level.

Don't expect any glamorized depictions of Native Americans or any other kind of American for that matter. He gives you the good with the bad in painfully honest observations and language. For example, in The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above (my favorite story in the book), Estelle, a Spokane Indian and the narrator's mother (and a feminist, militant vegan), raises her son in a poor white neighborhood in Seattle, sends him to white schools (plus, in several humorous passages gives him some embarrassing and especially traumatic advice on women and sex) and gets herself a college education (come hell or high water).
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Zeeshan Hasan on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the best writing I've seen from Sherman Alexie since The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven. I thought Indian Killer was a bit of a disappointment, really... the politics were too blatant and heavy-handed, and the story lacked the subtlety and delicate touch of his shorter work. But he's in top form again here.
I was lucky enough to see him read the last story in person. It was an unforgettable experience. As a friend who was there with me said, "He makes you burst out laughing one moment, then breaks your heart the next."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Samantha M. Peterson on October 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I recommend this book for several reasons. Not only is it a thoroughly entertaining read, it also makes an important statement about all the things that people in this day and age are going through. I didn't feel as though I was reading about Native Americans from a white person's point of view. I felt like I was reading about fellow human beings who go through some of the same things I do. Reading this book made me feel a range of emotions, and also left me with a different way to look at situations that life may present me with.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul Loeb on June 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book's as good as anything Sherman's written, which is high praise. The stories are funny, wise, profane, taking you deep into the worlds of his characters, turning your expectations upside down. It's about sex, basketball, Sept 11, memory and hope, the ties of the families we're born to and the families we find. It's about what it means to be a Spokane Indian, what it means for any of us to try and stay human against all the madness around us. I'll be rereading this book and thinking about it for a long long time.
Paul Loeb
Author Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ancient Amazon on June 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ten Little Indians showcases Sherman Alexie's ability to reveal the wonderful oddities hiding in ordinary human lives--a brilliant college student obsessed by an obscure poet tracks him down to find out how he became so "Indian"; a man's heart fibrillates, leading him to a vision of his father's death and to a new life as a superfit, middle-aged basketball phenom; a mama's boy is desperate to help a beautiful, confident woman who is unaware of the menstrual blood staining the back of her white skirt.
These are strange, potent tales. You will rejoice as Alexie's characters find the extraordinary in lives seemingly destined to be tragic.
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