Sunday, September 9, 2007


Reservation Blues was the first novel I read by Sherman Alexie and I became an immediate fan. Later I discovered his poetry and translated some. The last book that found me is Flight. An orphaned Indian boy shipped from one foster family to another constantly gets in trouble, although he is obviously not an evil person. The novel starts: “My zits are me.” Marking him as not part of a clean and wholesome world. His only defense is: ”Whatever.” Till one day at the brink of real violence he shifts shape and time, becomes another person, looks at situations through a different perspective. Each layer of reality that makes up his own personality is thus experienced and he learns that violence is not the answer. The writing as always is swift and shows knowledge and understanding of past (Custer and the Ghostdance) and present (poverty) and the struggle to make it in this world as it presents itself to Indians. So when the young warrior returns to his own life he has been changed by all the experiences and the healing can slowly start. I once was present at a book presentation of Alexie: he is witty and sharp, thinks on his feet and is borderline intimidating. I had intended to interview him and didn't feel prepared enough… The humor mediates the author's anger; he is direct, brilliant and moving. A must read.
p. 2: I don’t think I’m some mystical bastard. I just pay attention to the details.
p. 25: “The individual has always had to work hard to avoid being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself.”
p. 58: He is one hundred different versions of himself, and only one of them is a killer.
p. 90: I don’t kill anybody. But I ride with killers, so that makes me a killer.
p.148: “yes, I laughed so hard that I forgot my wife and daughter were standing there. And when I remembered, I turned around and looked at them, and they were staring at me with those eyes. Do you know what kind of eyes I am talking about?”
“Disappointed eyes.”
“ yeah, disappointed eyes. But I’m used to those eyes, I mean, I’m married, right? My wife gives me those eyes sixteen times a day. But my daughter was giving me those eyes. And you know what’s worse?”
“She was ashamed of me. My little girl was ashamed of me. I turned her love and pain into a big fucking laugh.”

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