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Reservation Blues Paperback – February 7, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Some of the other reviewers have mentioned that a movie will be made of this. It will be a challenge to deliver what the book does. What happens to the band, Coyote Springs, at the hands of the New York record company in the book is not good and I wouldn't want Hollywood to do that to this fine work. On the other hand, Alexie is knowing, so I trust he has been careful in letting it go.
The straight forward plot is layered with metaphorical connections to a general Indian past, while each character is forced to confront haunting personal issues. For Thomas, it is the embarrassment of his alcoholic itinerant father. For Victor, it is the sexual abuse he faced at the hand of the reservation priest. For Checkers and Chess, it is a feeling of loneliness, the search for a "good Indian man," and being seen as outcasts on a reservation not their own. Ironically, their music is the only thing which gives them a feeling of power and inner strength, yet it is the opportunities provided by this music that alienate them from their own people.
Alexie believes the problems facing Indians today are the same faced by their ancestors 100 years ago. An obvious example is the names of the record executives for "Cavalry Records," Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Wright, and Mr.Read more ›
If all you know of Alexie's work is the movie "Smoke Signals" you should be aware that key characters in this book have the same names and back stories. However, the written characters are entirely different. Suspend the implanted images and get to know people who are far more interesting.
It's been said that there are two stories in the world: one, someone sets out on a journey, and two, a stranger knocks on the door. In "Reservation Blues", a stranger arrives on the Spokane Indian Reservation at the end of a long journey. The stranger turns out to be the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, who made a scant 29 recordings before dying of poison in 1938. In the novel, it turns out that Johnson faked his death in an attempt to escape the "Gentleman", an enigmatic figure that anyone familiar with the Robert Johnson mythos will recognize.
Johnson leaves his guitar in the back of storyteller Thomas Builds-the-Fire's van, which sends the plot rolling through themes of identity, alienation, tragedy and redemption. All of this, with a liberal sprinkling of the deft comic twist that is a hallmark of Alexie's style, and of the blues itself.
Being a musician, or any kind of artist, requires sacrifice--whether it's not getting enough sleep because you have to get up for your day job no matter how late you played the night before, or making a choice that results in losing something you care deeply about for the sake of your art. "Reservation Blues" shows how well Alexie understands this, and how even failure can be turned into success.
I first heard of this book in a review journal put out by a science fiction/fantasy bookstore, but Alexie integrates the fantastic elements of his story far more deftly than most writers of fantastic fiction can manage. Although the construction of the story is non-linear, Alexie never loses track of the threads of the tale, and the result is a great read that I've enjoyed over and over again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kept me wondering what was next for these sad and strong charactersPublished 24 days ago by marilyn s groves
Wonderful book Sherman Alexie is so good at (sometimes sarcastically) informing about reservation life. While reading his books you feel that you actually know his characters. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Walter Spiese
Coyote Springs is an Spokane Indian musical group that starts as a trio and becomes a quintet when sisters from the Flathead Rez join in at one of the gigs. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Vickie Woodard
Thought-provoking and entertaining, Sherman Alexie is an important new author and I want to read more of his work.Published 1 month ago by Mary W. Plante
Great premise--Indian guitarist gets Robert Johnson's guitar, starts rock band, mysterious woman teaches all the great musicians--humor, pathos, great characters.Published 1 month ago by G. Terry
The story of Coyote Springs' struggles for an identity and purpose transcend time and place. Blending the sorrow of Blues music with evocative Native American lyrics, the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bob
If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be trippy. I found it in the scrap pile at a used bookstore I worked at. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Claire Fraser
I bought this book to read for a school report. It was a good story, but I found many of the sub-plots were somewhat anti-climactic. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anthony G Pruitt