Posts Tagged ‘Sherman Alexie’

War Dances by Sherman Alexie

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite authors. I’d read his grocery list. So when I saw War Dances in the bookstore, of course I bought it. I’ve had it for a couple of weeks now, and finally picked it up to read at a time when I was in need of serious distraction.

Let me start by saying that Alexie is writing at a level most authors only dream about reaching. When I offer a criticism, I’m still talking about levels of good.

I’d need a week at least to put together the kind of review this book deserves and I’d have to read through it two or three more times — which I will do, I’m quite certain (the reading, not the review). But I don’t have a week, so you get this one draft review.

When I was in grad school and reading Faulkner, Roth and the like, I kept wondering to myself who, today, is the future canon? The writer who just keeps getting better and better until you start to get chills. I’ve been hard pressed to come up with a name. So many of the literary writers today feel so self-aware and stultifyingly precious that, to be honest, I don’t give a hoot. Really.

If he keeps writing like this, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t, if there’s any justice in the world, Alexie is that writer.

I thought War Dances started off good but not Great. I read one of the pieces in substantially, but not exactly, the same form The New Yorker (here, the title story War Dances) It’s at this point that the collection really pulled me in. As I progressed through the poems and stories, I start taking in the themes and questions Alexie leaves us to face — the various narrators’ interior lives are fundamentally different from the culturally dominant worldview. We are constantly shown that maybe we don’t understand quite enough.

The poem On Airplanes was the first one to make me say, oh. at the end. From that point forward the stories and poems were transformative. Ode to Pay Phones made my breath catch. Ode to Mix Tapes is in a similar class. The story Fearful Symmetry is Alexie at his “turn you around” best. Where you start this story and where you are when it ends are two different worlds, and in between Alexie puts you through a transformation. The last story Salt and the final poem Food Chain were wonderful and so very lovely.

If you love writing, if you’re in love with words, if you just want to say you read a great writer before he was writ large, read War Dances


Reporting In On Project Relaxation

Monday, May 5th, 2008

So, yeah. I’m not so sure how relaxing things have been. I’ve been trying to get all the stuff I’ve been ignoring for practically a year done and off the To-Do list. Today, I tackled a major one — which is getting together the paperwork for submitting an extension course proposal to my alma mater. I’ll refine it tomorrow and make a call to find out what I can email and what has to be snail-mailed.

Other than that, I’ve finally started in on the TBR pile. So far:

Mine to Possess By Nalini Singh. I’ve been meaning to read her forever, and at last I could. And am glad I did. Fun read!

The Short Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao By Junot Diaz (Still working on this one, but it’s great!) Only, I’ve set it aside for:

Indian Killer By Sherman Alexie

I’m becoming a Sherman Alexie fangirl. His YA The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was so freaking good — rush out and buy or borrow this book, people — I went out the next week and bought two of his adult titles. Wow. Just wow. He’s amazing.

I should be ashamed about setting aside Diaz, but you know what? It’s my TBR and I can read in whatever order I want and I can be reading as many books as I want at the same time, too.

Today, I notebooked some of the next historical and I think I nailed the basic idea. Things began very badly. All confusing and none of the parts were fitting together. But then I realized I needed to change the location and ta dah! everybody was very happy.

OK, off to bed because I want to read some before it’s too late.