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Showing 1-10 of 180 reviews(verified purchases). Show all reviews
on July 12, 2000
This is an awesome collection, but when you read it, keep in mind that the stories are not supposed to be connected. Each wonderful story stands on its own and portrays reservation life from the perspective of different characters, although some characters appear peripherally in more than one story. Some may say that Alexie is angry and that this book describes a life of alcoholic depressiveness on the Rez; in reality he is just describing much of what is. There is love and caring and pride and intelligence right next to the stuff one might consider ugly. Reading this book will alternately make you sad and happy--that's what Life is anyway.
And go rent the movie, Smoke Signals; Alexie wrote the screenplay for it based on some of the scenes from this book, but don't expect the book to be like the movie or vice versa. Alexie is a talented young writer who deserves the attention he is getting.
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VINE VOICEon November 14, 2013
I will confess to having known almost nothing about this book before buying it. "Native American" writing is sometimes filled with spiritualism, and with rare exceptions I avoid the stuff.

However, Sherman Alexie gave a great interview in the New York Times book review last month, full of warmth and humor, and expressing a personal dislike of "Native American" books himself. He won my admiration and I decided he had earned my book purchase.

To me, this book seems to have a lot in common with Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried," in that it's fiction, but uses fiction to tell deeper truths than might have been possible with a strict work of nonfiction. Also, like "The Things They Carried," this is a collection of short stories, but with so much overlap in themes and characters and setting that it more-or-less tells a single story.

It's a story about childhood, and being an Indian (Alexie uses the word freely, so I'm going to use it here), and growing up on the "rez." And it's a story about a world drenched with alcohol and drug abuse. I found "The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire" and "Jesus Christ's Half-Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian Reservation" to be the strongest pieces in the collection.

Some of the characters in some of these stories experience victory, but for the most part they're stuck in a difficult place, far from the centers of commerce and culture, jealous of their ancestors, bitter at their contemporaries, proud even when there don't seem to be any concrete accomplishments to be proud of. I've lived in areas with significant Native American populations, but I think my empathy is much deeper for having read this collection than it could possibly have been before.

This is the 20th Anniversary Edition, and it includes two introductory essays. One is an e-mailed dialog between Alexie and a fellow Native American Writer. This is forgettable. The other is Alexie's reminiscences about publishing his first collection of poems, and how against incredible odds it was picked up by the New York Times Book Review and given a glowing review, and how totally his life changed as a result. This collection was his follow-up to that small book of poems. I am glad this essay was included, to remind us that, for all the injustice and difficulties in this country, including those experienced by Indians living on reservations, sometimes America does deliver on its promise.
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on May 11, 2016
Used at Western Washington University around 2009. This is a fantastic book and I'm glad I was required to read it in school.

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on August 31, 2016
This is an early collection of related stories from the author of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." The stories interconnect, and together paint a picture of growing up on the reservation is Eastern Washington State. Unlike in his novels, there isn't any clean conclusion to this collection, but rather a portrait of how life is, and I think maybe how life is for a lot of people, some of whom aren't Indians at all. An excellent collection, and well worth your time to read.The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (20th Anniversary Edition)
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on January 22, 2014
The stories in this book are heartbreaking and brilliant all at once. The writing is direct, humane, inspiring and smart. Sherman Alexie remains a distinguished voice, and I'm glad to see this 20th anniversary edition.
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on January 7, 2016
So this is my all time favorite of Sherman's. I've read it at least three times, and each time I find something else hidden in between the lines. Native humor is often subtle, and you have to pay attention or you miss it. With Alexie, I can always go back in the the pages to revisit the details I first missed. It has an overtone of sadness as well, yet I feel that if people can find humor in tragedy, then there is hope.
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on July 28, 2014
The reason this book is not only brilliant but important and necessary can be found in the one- and two-star reviews here: the sweeping, shameful, embarrassing ignorance and lack of concern among most Americans about what Natives went through and still go through. Until people are no longer surprised by how depressing and despairing these stories are, until people are more offended by the Native experience than by the "f-word," they must continue to be read.
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on September 21, 2016
The categories listed are not meaningful. This is a book of short stories and there is no sustained plot.

I loved the tone of the writing. It presents various aspects of life on a Spokane Indian reservation and manages to present the economic and alcoholic misery without sinking into morbidity.
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on November 23, 2013
I think Sherman Alexie is a significant writer, and I'm glad I took the time to read these stories. Yet I didn't really connect with them. Since very few writers are writing about contemporary life on Indian reservations, Alexie has carved out for himself a unique genre. His flights of imagery and his metaphorical use of language and action deserve thought and observation, but emotionally I found the stories wandering off into situations that didn't interest me. I've seen him speak in person,and I found him witty and entertaining. I found the stories less so. I think I enjoyed his introduction more than any individual story.
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on December 15, 2015
Very unique book, with an interesting narrative. I didnt find it to be as humorous as most reviews seem to think it is. It also feels a little dated, unrelatable because the narrative of modern tribes is such common knowledge now. I recommend this book, I read it for book-club, but you have to be into stuff thats a little hard to follow. Its the art-film of realistic fiction.
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