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Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories Hardcover – October 2, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Over the years, Alexie has carved out a space in American literature as the great, tragicomic bard of the modern Native American experience. The stories in Blasphemy offer ample proof why. . . . Told in [Alexie's] irreverent, unforgettable voice . . . You'll feel you've been transported inside the soul of a deeply wounded people. But they are a people too comfortable in their brown skins to allow those wounds to break them. . . . With irony and sardonic wit, the Native men and women in Alexie's imagination find a way forward, and they endure. . . . [A] great triumph."—Los Angeles Times

"Alexie once again reasserts himself as one the most compelling contemporary practitioners of the short story. In Blasphemy, the author demonstrates his talent on nearly every page. These are deceptively simple, swift-moving stories awash with characters in the thrall of various sins and existential quandaries. Alexie deftly administers near equal doses of pathos and humor, providing such smooth entertainment that some readers may glide over his empathetic treatment of such themes as racism, identity, family, loyalty, and ceremony. . . . Will appeal to fans of Junot Diaz, George Saunders, and readers new to Alexie will find this enriching collection to be the perfect introduction to a formidable literary voice. . . . [Alexie] illuminates the lives of his characters in unique, surprising and, ultimately, hopeful ways."—Boston Globe

"Tough, warmhearted, rowdy, and moving . . . Alexie's achievement here is his depiction of the tangled complexities of race—that great open secret of American life—in an undidactic and utterly natural way."—The Washington Post

"A timely reminder of Alexie's genius."—The Guardian

"The truths [Alexie] mines are so insightful that even the most ardent critic must pause and consider his words. The depth of Alexie's stories is complemented by the self-awareness and unapologetic humor that suffuse almost every page. Again, Alexie draws out laughter, even as a reader struggles to understand the overwhelming sadness these tales can evoke. . . . The strength of Alexie's work is his unrepentant exploration of what it means to be 'other.' . . . Blasphemy is blasphemous only in disrespecting the boundaries that many would place on those who mine otherness."—Washington Independent Review of Books

"[Alexie] has been celebrated for his acerbic, funny, politically charged stories. . . . Tenderness along with passion—governable or otherwise—are elements as pervasive in his impressive body of work as his subversive humor, his grief and outrage over the exploitation and neglect of indigenous populations in the United States. . . . If literary fiction in its purest form is meant to be an accurate reflection of human experience and its inevitable ambiguities, Alexie skillfully offers us this in Blasphemy. . . . What Alexie makes poignantly clear in the stories he has written in his long and robust career is that we cannot choose whom we fall in love with, nor can we choose who, fundamentally, we are."—San Francisco Chronicle

"[Blasphemy] haunts the reader with men whose choices lead to misfortune. One can also expect the humor and small redemptions that are present in Alexie's best work."—Time Out New York (5 stars)

"Sweet, salty, and full of heart . . . In his stories [Alexie's] stories are wide open to love and death, fathers and sons, grief and loss, and the multiple dilemmas of marriage and race and waking up pathetically human. His stories speed along, most first-person narration, in a voice so captivating you don't want him (or her) to stop."—Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

"Shot through with emotional strain . . . A powerful thwap against mainstream knowledge of American Indians . . . Each story is a page-turner . . . a series of literary sprints, each one quickening your heart rate and leaving you pausing to catch your breath before you're on to the next."—Huffington Post

"You'll finish this first-rate collection wanting more."—People

"The supreme irony of all identity writing . . . is that the literary trick does not click unless everyone is in on it. . . . Sherman Alexie, with his shamanistic convicts, drunken fathers, homeless heroes, and gay boxers, understands this imp or inclusion to an almost supernatural fault. . . . Alexie's voice, for so long the go-to growl of the contemporary American Indian experience, seems to have gotten braver with age. . . . Alexie's authority here is an inclusive comic sorrow that befits the entire world."—Dallas News

"A beautiful anthology . . . Each character is distinctly memorable. . . . [Alexie] leads his readers through a minefield or grave situations while turning back to wink and crack jokes along the way."—Brooklyn Rail

"Blasphemy succeeds in placing new stories within the solid foundation of what are now Alexie classics. The result is a thoughtfully arranged overview of Alexie's most important themes and some of his most loved characters, complemented by dynamic new work."—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A masterful gift . . . It takes a special talent to tackle despair and isolation while maintaining an overarching optimism. . . . Alexie writes concisely and simply, which makes following the author's whimsy a breezy joy and constant surprise. The stories teeter between serious, philosophical musings and bitter sarcasm, which together give the stories a unique rhythm. . . . Blasphemy acts as Alexie's definitive statement about common human experiences."—Daily Nebraskan

"Brilliant . . . A fearless two-decade examination of Sherman Alexie's Native America, and also a testament to his mastery of the short-story form."—The Toronto Star

"A poet and fiction writer for adults of all ages, National Book Award winner Alexie is a virtuoso of the short story. His first two blazing collections, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Toughest Indian in the World, established him as an essential American voice. Now, many books later, best-selling Alexie has created a substantial, big-hearted, and potent collection that combines an equal number of new and selected stories to profound effect. In these comfort-zone-destroying tales, including the masterpiece, 'War Dances,' his characters grapple with racism, damaging stereotypes, poverty, alcoholism, diabetes, and the tragic loss of languages and customs. Questions of authenticity and identity abound. . . . Alexie writes with arresting perception in praise of marriage, in mockery of hypocrisy, and with concern for endangered truths and imperiled nature. He is mischievously and mordantly funny, scathingly forthright, deeply and universally compassionate, and wholly magnetizing. This is a must-have collection."—Booklist (starred review)

"[A] sterling collection of short stories by Alexie, a master of the form. . . . . The newer pieces are full of surprises. . . . . These pieces show Alexie at his best: as an interpreter and observer, always funny if sometimes angry, and someone, as a cop says of one of his characters, who doesn’t 'fit the profile of the neighborhood.'"—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Alexie hammers away at ever-simmering issues, like racism, addiction, and infidelity, using a no-holds-barred approach and seamlessly shattering the boundary between character and reader. But while these glimpses into a harried and conflicted humanity prod our consciousness, there’s plenty of bawdiness and Alexie’s signature wicked humor throughout to balance out the weight."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An unsettling and very American panorama."—Vogue (Fall's Standout Fiction)

"Like the best storytellers, Alexie can toss off heartbreakingly expressive and profound sentiments with a humor and nonchalance that cleverly conceal their gravity. It's these deceptively poignant moments that drive Alexie's work and provide an earthly backdrop to the cosmic swap meets of our souls. . . . [He] translates the beauty of his forbears' straightforward philosophy into a jarring and transcendent literary experience. . . . Told with his hallmark wit and candor [Blasphemy] captures the splendors of [Alexie's] considerable talent."—Portland Monthly

"Highlights Alexie's unique ability to create deeply moving and thought-provoking stories that can make you laugh out loud and simultaneously break your heart . . . Alexie's stories do not shy away from depicting the poverty, addiction, and violence that affects many Native American communities, but he explores these darker aspects of life with biting humor and a lot of compassion, letting the joy shine through as well. . . . Explores the universal themes of relationships and identity along with the thornier issues of American life, like race and class, with remarkable heart and humor."—Kasia Hopkins, The News-Gazette (Illinois)

About the Author

Alexie is a poet, novelist, and screenwriter. He has won the Pen/Faulkner Award, Stranger Genius Award in Literature, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature, and the Malamud Award. Alexie lives in Seattle.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Main edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120397
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover 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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Format: Hardcover 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.
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Format: Hardcover 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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The focused reader will note that all of Alexie's stories are to some degree autobiographical, as much as he would deny it, and all very repetitive in characters and motifs. It is, as such, very easy to mix up any two of his short stories. Sometimes the narrator is a poor, alcoholic, homeless Indian living on the "Rez," sometimes he/she is that lucky Indian who gets off the Rez and is adopted by the world of the white middle class. Invariably, there is an archetypal "Junior" in the story who confirms all stereotypes Alexie attributes to his people, and there is the narrator's conflict with his/her place in Indian culture or between cultures. Although many Native American studies educators will roundly deny this, Alexie's bigotry is spread thin and wide throughout his stories — one must assume that he finds catharsis in waxing philosophical on killing all the whites, for revenge or otherwise.
Those are all my qualms about Alexie's writing. By the same token, he is also an amazing writer, who can drown the reader in the emotion of the story, and of the narrator, so that you can almost feel the suffering, or the isolation, or the existential crises of the stories. You will learn a good deal about Native American culture and the contemporary "Indian Problem" — no longer referring to the white euphemism for the need to eradicate or reeducate the Indians but the struggle of the widespread poverty and squalor that Native Americans face on and off reservations today. Alexie explores issues of identity and culture unabashedly and beautifully, and this selection of stories is very representative of his best writing. He may be controversial, but not many others are stepping up to write on these matters as viscerally as him.
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