his book is the words and work of an Indian Writer, Sherman Alexie, and the collection that won him the National Book Award. It’s an odd collection of short stories (Biographical? Fiction? Hard to tell) about life on the rez, the hopelessness, the alcoholism, the despair. Really, I got about ¾ of the way through and had to take a break. Too many Indians escaping the rez yet falling back in. Too many lives turning dark.
Look, I’m a liberal softie and I always get depressed when a bunch of tough settlers shoot the shit out of a war party from their flimsy fortress of circled Conestogas.
Yet even though the subject was dark, the writing was good (stellar in places). My heart would go out to the characters. Thomas Builds-the-Fire was my favorite, an identifiable kindred spirit, a guy who just tells stories to tell stories, and eventually nobody listens and everyone ignores him. But yes, I read this and got an image of the dusty streets, the flat bleakness, the all-night parties, the limited employment opportunities, the substance abuse. Yes, tough book.
So, yes, have a read and see what you think. This one’s been around forever (I got the 20th anniversary issue, marred as it was by some student underlining the shit out of everything she found relevant, always a bother). But good, especially if you are looking for a new and different voice.