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War Dances by Sherman Alexie

In General Fiction on January 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm
War Dances by Sherman Alexie

War Dances by Sherman Alexie

Title: War Dances

Author: Sherman Alexie

Genre: Fiction/Short Stories/Native American/Indian

Rating: ****/****

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Sherman Alexie is my favorite writer for the reason that he never disappoints. He’s written screenplays, novels, poetry, but he writes a short story better than anybody else I’ve read to date. He packs more ideas & interesting characters/events in one short story than some people do in an entire novel. What this collection focuses upon is men who are experiencing major changes in their lives e.g. the end of their marriage, death of love ones, illness, moral dilemmas, etc. & they find themselves without any script to follow. What’s really at the heart of the collection is that all of our successes & failures are just part of being human, we can’t always explain why they happen or revolve them. Of course, Alexie channels many of the
common themes he’s written about previously: identity, reconciling oneself with historic past, struggles of modern Indians, racism, etc. Interspersed throughout the story are poems which usually relate to the story about to be introduced e.g. a poem about religion before a story dealing with a tribe’s adoption of Catholicism.

Favorite story: ‘Breaking & Entering’ which is about a film editor living in a black neighborhood who finds himself the target of a home invasion/robbery. When he ends up killing the would-be thief who happens to be an average teenager, he finds himself the target of the media & the boy’s family. What I like about this story is that the film editor doesn’t clearly understand if he made the right decision or not by choosing to confront & fight the robber. We have to wonder if this is because of the media blitz or his own problem with knowing that he inadvertently killed someone who was just trying to steal dvds. Also, as Alexie doesn’t let anything be simple, he throws in the dynamic that the film editor is being labelled a racist for his actions since the teenager was African American, when his own racial identity is conveniently ignored by the media & the boy’s family. (They call him white, when he’s Indian.) Plus, we have to wonder why no one is asking themselves why an average kid would break into someone’s house in the first place. It’s all there folks: race baiting, scapegoating, the fear that many of us possess for those who are different, & even a nod to the causes/effects of youth crime. People are looking at the symptoms without considering the causes.

Like I said, Sherman Alexie never disappoints!  This is just one story in the collection along with new poetry that you will enjoy as well.
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