Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Quips, tragedy and wisdom from Sherman Alexie

Image from the New York Times

Sherman Alexie is a stunningly clever wordsmith. Like that of Thomas King, his work is shocking, tragic and hilarious. One story in War Dances portrays a film editor who bludgeons a black teen home intruder. Mistaken in the press for a white man, the editor calls the TV station to clarify: he's a Spokane Indian.

"The pain Olympics" is a pithy encapsulation of a whole mindset. Alexie's ironic self-descriptions include "Indian du jour," raised in a family with a spirit animal of poverty. Frightened by recent death threats, he attributes these to being a"Commie liberal brown dude." The latest work of this hydrocephalus survivor is a memoir of his mother, the toughest lady on the reservation. Reading it, I found myself eager and terrified to see what this talented writer's sleight of mind will next expose.

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