Two things before I launch into my review(s): (1) being an adjunct professor of anything takes all your free time, including reading; (2) it’s easier to take back time reading books than writing reviews. I’m seriously like ten reviews behind, and I actually jotted this one down a few weeks ago, but haven’t actually typed it up. I’m glad it’s only September. I need to catch up and move back into my regular groove!
Okay, onto the good stuff. I first read a short story by Sherman Alexie a few years back. That short story was “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” It’s a powerful, image-driven story about growing up between worlds and moving beyond lost love. When I found out that it was merely part of an entire collection of short stories, I was delighted. So, I bought the book (back before I made my handy new rule), and have finally gotten around to reading it.
This collection is a perfect introduction to Alexie’s oeuvre. His stories are heartbreaking, alcohol-soaked, and hilarious (no, really). He features several recurring characters and families over the years in all their woes and escapades. While “The Lone Ranger and Tonto…” is my favorite story, there are other terrific tales, including “Junior Polatkin’s Wild West Show.” To say too much would be giving the plot away, but it’s a must-read. If you can, get your hands on the 20th anniversary copy—Alexie adds a few more short stories. Plus (and this is the selling point), the introduction is an email exchange between Alexie and fellow Washington author Jess Walter (author of Beautiful Ruins)—they discuss Alexie’s 1993 reservation mullet, which had me rolling with laughter. It’s truly hilarious.
Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and if you’ve ever read him or heard him speak, it’s not hard to see why. He’s a hard-hitting author with a wicked sense of humor. Bonus: give his guest spot on Dan Savage’s podcast, The Savage Lovecast. It’s pretty great.