NYTs Review of Sherman Alexie’s “Blasphemy”


An excerpt:

The most disheartening aspect of this collection is the fact that, over 20 years, the jokes themselves haven’t changed. Alexie’s narrators and protagonists still see themselves as solitary outcasts on the margins of reservation life, and it shows: we hear a great deal about vodka, meth, commodity canned beef and horn-rimmed government glasses, but nothing about the intricacies of tribal politics, struggles over natural resources or efforts to preserve indigenous cultural life. Of course, a fiction writer follows the dictates of his own imagination, not any political or cultural agenda, but that’s precisely the point: Alexie’s world is a starkly limited one, and his characters’ vision of Native America, despite their sometimes crippling nostalgia, is as self-consciously impoverished as it has ever been. What began as blasphemy could now just as easily be described as a kind of arrested development. Perhaps, willingly or not, that is the lesson he’s trying to teach us.

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Book Review, Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to NYTs Review of Sherman Alexie’s “Blasphemy”

  1. Lisa says:

    Maybe that is the point. That life has not and rarely changes in societies that are confined and not allowed to grow or change. That is to say native peoples are confined by rigid sterotypes that the public believes and by our own self loathing. We have many issues to resolve but, we can not do so because we are confined and defined not by our own values but by the overall society. A society that is detrimental to our survival as a race and people. If reservations were in any other part of the world outside of the US and or Canada the world would be screaming that they are violations of human rights and dignity. Sadly we never see the painful truth that both societies are past masters at ethnic cleansing and genocide. Hell Hitler was learned about how to do ethnic cleansing by studying America and Canada. Lets be honest here. Sherman Alexis works are a reflection of what is. Not what we want. We may have some advances but it is often one step forward two back. Heaven forbid our people gain autonomy or a chance to thrive. Reading the book is a stark reminder of how far we have to go and also a tribute to the will to keep going despite the dark clouds of destruction that seem around every corner. Maybe one day his books will show a positive outcome but only if it really ever happens. So far not holding my breathe to that.

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