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War Dances Paperback – August 3, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Alexie has a wry, subversive sensibility. . . . The structure [in War Dances] is sophisticated yet playful, a subtle way to bring lightness to heavy topics such as senility, bigotry, cancer, and loneliness. . . . A mix tape of a book, with many voices, pieces of different length, shifting rhythms, an evolving story.”Los Angeles Times
Smart modern stories interspersed with witty and deep-feeling verse.”San Francisco Chronicle
Sherman Alexie mixes up comedy and tragedy, shoots it through with tenderness, then delivers with a provocateur’s don’t-give-a-damn flourish. He’s unique, and his new book, War Dances, is another case in point.”Seattle Times
Alexie’s works are piercing yet rueful. He writes odes to anguished pay-phone calls, to boys who would drive through blizzards to see a girl, to couples who need to sit together on airplane flights even though the computer thinks otherwise. . . . [A] marvelous collection.”Miami Herald
War Dances taps every vein and nerve, every tissue, every issue that quickens the current blood-pulse: parenthood, divorce, broken links, sex, gender and racial conflict, substance abuse, medical neglect, 9/11, Official Narrative vs. What Really Happened, settler religion vs. native spirituality, marketing, shopping, and war, war, war. All the heartbreaking ways we don’t live nowthis is the caring, eye-opening beauty of this rollicking, bittersweet gem of a book.” PEN/Faulkner judge Al Young
Few other contemporary writers seem willing to deal with issues of race, class, and sexuality as explicitly as Alexie . . . [War Dances” is] a virtuoso performance of wit and pathos, a cultural and familial critique and a son’s quiet, worthless scream against the night as his father expires . . . [that] reminds me of the early 20th Century master of the short form Akutagawa Riyunosuke. . . . Yet again Sherman Alexie has given us a hell of a ride.”Barnes & Noble Reviews
"War Dances is maybe the most personal book Alexie has ever published, and it’s certainly one of his most readable. The closest thing to a historical precedent for this book is Palm Sunday, Kurt Vonnegut’s wildly entertaining self-described autobiographical collage’ of anecdotes, fiction, reminiscences, and other work. . . . Each piece firmly builds on some part of the other, like the songs on a good mix tape. . . . The asymmetrical collection on display in War Dances works as a supremely gratifying reading experience.”The Stranger
Penetrating . . . Alexie unfurls highly expressive language . . . [in] this spiritedly provocative array of tragic comedies.”Publishers Weekly
Encounter [Alexie’s work] once and you’ll never forget it.”Library Journal
Alexie is at his best in this collection of hilarious and touching stories.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
[With War Dances], Sherman Alexie enhances his stature as a multitalented writer and an astute observer of life among Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. . . . [An] edgy and frequently surprising collection.”Bookpage
Remarkable . . . Wonderful . . . [Alexie’s] work reveals both the light and dark within native American life. A paradox in his writing is that you can be in the middle of delighted laughter when he will hit you with a sentence so true to the core of a character’s pain that you suck your breath or are startled to realize you are crying.”The Globe and Mail
Alexie is a master storyteller whose prose is laced with metaphoric realities of life, mixed with triumph and tragedy. . . . War Dances is vintage Alexie . . . [and] should be savored. . . . Fans will not be disappointed.”The Grand Rapids Press
Top Customer Reviews
Grove Press, 209 pp.
Sherman Alexie is as interesting a person as he is a writer. A few years back I heard him do an interview with national conservative talk show host, and Seattle-based, Michael Medved. Although Alexie declared himself somewhat left on the political spectrum, I found him to be one of the most delightful (and I'm not a guy who uses that word often, but it fits) interviews I've ever heard. While so many folks, on both sides can sound downright mean, Alexie is honest, self-deprecating, insightful, and quite funny.
Why did I start this review of War Dances with a review of Alexie's interview prowess? Well, because I found many of the reasons I liked the book are the same reasons I'd liked the interview. While at times I laughed, saddened, and even winced, I was sucked in by every word.
While the stories appear to be "all over the place," you sense there is a common thread running through the stories--and there is. And these are stories that feel so real the fact they're fiction, often feels vice versa. So real. And for me, as a Seattle cop, my day job, it rang incredibly real in one particular story.
A father is home alone, in Seattle's Central District, (my beat) working as a freelance film editor. There's a knock at the door at three in the afternoon. Determining that no one of any worth comes to anyone's door at that time of day, he ignores the knock and returns to his work. A minute or two later he hears a window break, and confronts a burglar who's broken in. The remainder of the story is fascinating, but I can tell you this specific type of burglary, this M.O., Modus Operandi, is unfortunately way too common in the neighborhood Alexie describes.Read more ›
There is a rhythm to the collection as successive stories and poems are loosely related and connected to each other - a story about a traveling salesman's repeated connections with another traveler ("The Balland of Pual Nonetheless") preceeds the poem "On Airplanes"; the poem "The Theology of Reptiles," introduces the short story "Catechism", about the Coeur 'd Alene and their conversion to Catholcism (and the underlying issues of Native assimilation so common to Alexie's work.) This formula works as each piece is interrelated with the next, a way of preparing the palatte for the next course.
The themes common to Alexie - alienation, guilt, the struggle of identity and wrestling with one's personal (and historic) past are all here, and all have the semi-autobiograhical feel that is indicitive of his earlier work. Fans of Alexie will not be disappointed; he is a great writer. For those who aren't familiar with his work, my recommendation for a first read would be The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. There are nuggets of brilliance in this collection, but it was too uneven to warrant five stars.
I also realized that there is an overexposure problem going on here: The book consists of something like six or seven short stories longer than 2 pages and poems in between. I believe I had read two of those poems before in newspapers or magazines (New Yorker?) and heard two more on NPR...
I liked the poems much better than the short stories. I really enjoyed them.
The short stories all 'climaxed' too soon. They felt like complete hit and run affairs. Not "shock and awe", more "what? you're done already?"
Of the short stories, I liked "catechism" best (I believe that was in the New Yorker too). The "Senator's Son" story just didn't add up. Very contrived with dialogue like from a "among the rich people" telenovela.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A laugh out loud and original look at race relations by a master of the topic. I could not decide if I liked the poems or the wry short stories more.Published 15 days ago by Bearwife
Sherman Alexie has a real way with words. The stories and poems in War Dances are powerful and beautifully written. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ed Haswell
“After our earliest ancestors crawled out of the oceans, how soon did they feel the desire to crawl back in?” (l. Read morePublished 9 months ago by George E. Dawson
This book was a reading requirement from my English class. I enjoyed reading this book because Sherman Alexie is not only a great story writer but he's also a poet. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Janet Cisneros
I love his writing! We study his work in my English 102 class and now I love to read his books!Published 9 months ago by Jordan
This is one of the worst, depressing, and most disjointed books I've ever read. I was actually mad at myself for even finishing it. Read morePublished 10 months ago by R. Kesler
Every once in a while I'll come across an author and know immediately that I must read everything they have ever written. For instance I would pay 10. Read morePublished 12 months ago by VirgilCane