Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie

I don't remember where I heard or saw this book, but it was an interesting read. It is a collection of short stories written by a man that is Native American and grew up on a reservation near Spokane, Washington (he is in fact, a member of the Spokane tribe) and the stories heavily portray the Native American experience and are autobiographical in nature. I guess not truly autobiographical as they are classified as short stories/fiction; however they took root in experiences that Alexie had while he was growing up and as an adult.

The title of the collection is appropriate because it seems like the main characters are always committing some sort of sin or other blasphemy. I loved how all of the protagonists, like the author, are Native American and literally make everyone uncomfortable because they all push the envelope in some way. And while they push the envelope, they are also addressing issues that Native Americans currently face: alcoholism, joblessness, transitioning from the rez to mass white culture. It deals with failed dreams and drugs. It deals with death and loss. It would be really easy for Alexie to just be depressing and morbid while telling these stories; however he's not and that's what makes these stories so amazingly wonderful. He tells the story with rueful humor and the characters always seem to find the humor in the situations, allowing us to blow off a little steam while trying to digest the awfulness of some of the struggles that they are facing. I also enjoyed the language that he used - he used a ton of memorable images. For instance, he wrote "Eucharist, that glorious metaphoric cannibalism of our Messiah." And that wasn't even one of the best ones.

All in all, this completely irreverent collection of stories makes the book a funny and quick and wonderful book to read. Grab it immediately.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this book. I have read pretty much everything that Alexie has written, so it was reading about old friends and meeting new ones. In the stories, I hear Alexie's voice, telling of his experiences, of his friends' and family's experiences, and of the experiences of all of us.

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