The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie is a collection of short stories focused on the lives of Native Americans in modern society. I have to say that I loved loved loved this collection. Alexie, rightly so, is known as one of the current greats in the writing world. His stories are poetic, insightful, funny and have a natural grace to them that makes the stories sing. The manner in which he mixes reality and old Indian myths and traditions is genius.
The overall tone of the collection is mournful and speaks of a lost culture. Alexie shows the beauty and art of the old Indian traditions and then he shows us the disconnect in the current Native American culture with the old ways and the modern world. I have kept myself somewhat educated on the completely disgraceful way the Indians were treated by our government and the complete destruction of their culture as a result, but reading it was absolutely heartbreaking.
Reading these stories, you get a feeling of hopelessness, loss and pain.
I cannot say enough about the creativity in which Alexie approached many of these stories. He takes storytelling to an entirely new level with metaphors and symbolism, and he makes it all sound so pretty while he's at it. Sometimes it was like reading pure poetry... sure poetry about an alcoholic Indian who can't support his family so they eat imaginary food for dinner, but pure poetry. And the greatest gift of the book is the imagination, the humor and the moments of love (and therefore hope) that he gives us. Yes, perhaps they are only glimmers of love and hope, but sometimes that's all people need.
It took me a long time to finish this collection, mostly because I carried it in my purse and used it as my emergency-stuck-waiting-in-line book, so I read it sporadically. However, as I got near the end I noticed myself putting off reading it because I didn't want the magical stories to end. I always knew that if I was stuck somewhere bored I had a whole world just waiting for me in my purse, and that was something that was hard for me to give up. But all good things must come to an end I suppose.
I Strongly recommend that everyone reading this go out and buy The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie immediately. It changes your perception of life and deepens your respect for the delicate balance of culture and the forever effects of forcefully assimilating people into a culture so contrasting to their own. It is a powerful book and frankly, just fun to read!
An interesting tidbit on Alexie... you know you've made it when you've got a copycat I suppose!
5* (as if you couldn't tell by my glowing review)
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