Review by Choice Review
At age 27, Sherman Alexie has already established himself as an incomparably more inventive and prolific poet than any other Native American now writing, and at least a dozen of the 42 poems in this fourth book would easily stand out in any collection of the year's best. Although the same world of the Spokane Indian Reservation underlies virtually all of Alexie's work and sometimes threatens to monotonize his lucid vision, his use of irony and humor consistently deny tragedy a permanent place in his revisionist New World. Here, universal themes--tolerance, plain-speaking, nonviolence, honesty, sobriety, community, beauty, love, hope, kindness, and forgiveness--are the order of any given day. As with any genuine poet, Alexie's mastery of language prevents easy paraphrase. Better yet, his affection for the icons of popular culture and its institutions--Elvis, 7-Eleven, AT&T, film, television, automobiles, neon--as well as the depth of his knowledge about history and myth, permits him to play freely with traditional European literary forms (including the captivity narrative) and create his own unmistakable style. "The best weapons are the stories," Alexie writes, "and every time the story is told, something changes." Indeed, it does. Alexie's retellings may just be the right mix to civilize a savage mainstream culture, for they bridge the gulf between popular misperceptions and the realities of contemporary Indian life. Undergraduate; graduate; faculty; general. J. R. Hepworth Lewis-Clark State College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Reading this latest offering of poetry and short prose pieces from Native American writer Alexie ( The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven ), it's easy to see why his work has garnered so much attention. Working from a carefully developed understanding of his place in an oppressed culture, he focuses on the need to tear down obstacles before nature tears them down. Fire is therefore a central metaphor: a sister and brother-in-law killed, a burnt hand, cars aflame. Tongue in cheek, Alexie inserts images from popular songs and movies, and catalogues aspects of traditional reservation life that have been sacrificed in America's melting pot. ``After 500 years of continuous lies / I would still sign treaties for you,'' he says in one of this volume's many love poems--a love so powerful it threatens to engulf readers as well. Alexie renews the nearly forgotten sense of language equaling power. And the language in these sequential works is flawless, each section picking up from and expanding upon the previous one, poetry and prose working naturally together. ``Imagination is all we have as defense against capture and its inevitable changes,'' he writes. And he proves his point. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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