14. Ten Little Indians

by Sherman Alexie

Thanks Dan for your review of this one, and sending it to me. This is a hearty, moving collection of short stories. As is usual, Alexie explores so many facets of Indian identity, particularly that of Spokane Indians. Reading these stories I was struck once again by how much I am not Indian, yet I connected so deeply with so many of his characters. He has a gift for pushing readers like me away and drawing me closer simultaneously. The lesson is: listen. Don’t pretend to know. Just listen. Just meet these characters on their own terms, in their own states of being without framing it in the usual bullshit white people tend to frame things in.

Alexie’s characters are some of the most complete, honest characters I’ve experienced, ever.

I am somewhat of an expert on the short story, which means, in part, that I am aware that most of them are the result of trying too hard. But the power in Alexie’s short stories comes from his poetical powers and a profound love for people.

The seventh story, “Do You now Where I Am?,” is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. It is the story of a life-long love told from the voice of an elderly man in total awe of his wife of 30-something years. He looks back to their early days and a stupid, selfish mistake made while the two rescue a lost cat, a mistake that has profound consequences. It is ultimately a story about her decades long awesomeness. It’s so human, so absolutely like what really happens.

Here’s one that made it’s way into The New Yorker. Another excellent story with his typical humor, voice, and frankness about how sometimes things go the way we like, other times they don’t.

“Do Not Go Gentle,” is another that deeply moving story. There’s the laughter, yes, but also the bluntness, the candor, that cuts to the heart of the human experience. Powerful stuff. Read ‘em and weep. Unless Dan wants it back I’ll send it along to the first that asks for it.

2 comments:

Somnambulist said...

Send it along to the next reader.

I really liked those stories also. Alexie has a great way of writing with the whit and sarcasm that we use in every day language, but he does not come across like he is "trying" to write that way. It is just who he is. I liked it.

dsgran said...

Awesome! I haven't read this one, but I did read "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" which was great... although it was made into the thoroughly mediocre movie "Smoke Signals" (which apparently Alexie was furious about- he thought the film, especially the title that the production company put on it trivialized everything he wrote about native american identity).