Blasphemy

Blasphemy

Book - 2012
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Combines fifteen of the author's classic short stories with fifteen new stories in an anthology that features tales involving donkey basketball leagues, lethal wind turbines, and marriage. In these comfort-zone-destroying tales, including the masterpiece, War dances, characters grapple with racism, damaging stereotypes, poverty, alcoholism, diabetes, and the tragic loss of languages and customs. Questions of authenticity and identity abound.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, [2012]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9780802120397
0802120393
Branch Call Number: FIC ALEXIE 2012
Characteristics: 465 pages ; 24 cm

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c
Christina10001
Sep 04, 2019

Excellent poetry.
Great style and authenticity.

w
Waluconis
Jul 01, 2019

This was published a while ago, but it offers of a selection of Sherman Alexie's best along with new short stories at the time. Sherman Alexie writes fantastic poetry, films, and novels as well, but especially excels in the art of the short story. These 31 stories offer a variety of lengths and themes, though all explore contemporary personal and public life. Alexie has been called the James Baldwin of Indigenous life; these is almost always present in the work aspects of indigenous lives. Interesting then that one story with no indigenous people, "Basic Training", is a grim haunting allegory about war, choices, and violence. Alexie's writing style makes you laugh, makes you sigh or cry, prods you, yet makes you comfortable. How does he do this? His writing style and voice are a huge part of it. No matter the themes that he is exploring, his statements on the human condition offer insights that stops you in your reading tracks: "In this world, we must love the liars or go unloved." Conducting college literature classes, I have found him to be the one writer that everyone always connected with and seemed most moved by. In "Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock”, Alexie makes the interesting claim that "music just might be the most important thing there is." In the same story, his father (or the narrator's father), when questioned by his son, tells him and us, “What’s real? I ain’t interested in what’s real. I’m interested in how things should be.” Is there a better definition of an Idealist? Alexie's dialoque is always totally right. Without the reader thinking about it, she finds herself pulled in. Lately the author has apologized for his actions concerning young female writers, which will mean readers holding his writing under a different microscope. Just the same, a longer short story titled "The Search Engine", one of the best in the collection, portrays an aspiring poet who has tracked down an obscure poet who has abandoned writing. Their eating is intense. The perspectives offered are timeless: "The fear of poetry was multicultural and timeless." Even though I had read some of the stories previously, I found this collection, offered all in one volume, to be exceptional.

o
outrageous
Sep 21, 2015

Strangely, Indian and Russian mentalities are so very much alike! And the truths Alexie preaches through his stories are the same truths I was raised on in my very traditional family back home in Russia. I was made to realize there's nothing more important for a human being than being tied to family, roots and heritage.

JCLChrisK Dec 26, 2013

It seems to me that all fiction writing falls somewhere on a continuum between barely-disguised autobiographical stories at one end and exploratory role-playing and the imagining of diverse perspectives at the other. Without knowing much about Sherman Alexie the man, this collection of short stories feels much closer to the autobiographical end of that spectrum to me--I don't get the sense that he's exploring different aspects of the human condition so much as different aspects of himself, dissecting his experiences in myriad ways and extrapolating the parts in different directions in an attempt to understand and express his identity. His particulars matter, and many of them* make repeat appearances in different ways in different stories. Yet by looking at his particulars and his place in the world through so many different lenses he allows us as readers to see ourselves and his connections to our experiences of the human condition after all.
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Alexie is articulate, eloquent, sardonic, witty, open, honest, and searing. His writing is always entertaining, confessional, poignant, revelatory, and painful. Even as I wanted to dwell on each story and plumb its depths for insight and meaning, I found it hard to put the book down and not immediately devour the next one. I'm going to have to find a copy of this at a used bookstore after returning my library copy so I can revisit the stories one at a time sometime later.

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"If she lived with a white person, Corliss knew she'd quickly be seen as ordinary, because she was ordinary. It's tough to share a bathroom with an Indian and continue to romanticize her. If word got around that Corliss was ordinary, even boring, she feared she'd lose her power and magic. She knew there would come a day when white folks finally understood that Indians are every bit as relentlessly boring, selfish, and smelly as they are, and that would be a wonderful day for human rights but a terrible day for Corliss."

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*Off the top of my head, elements that kept recurring:
- Being a Spokane Indian
- Living in Washington (state)
- Leaving the reservation school for a white high school
- Playing basketball
- Attending college
- Being Catholic
- Coming from poverty
- Living an urban, educated, middle class life
- Infidelity
- Sexual exploration
- Being a student of literature; being a writer
(And, of course, all the things that recur in any collection of stories, things like family, cultural identity, love, and so on.)

r
ravenread
Oct 19, 2013

Literary shaman

t
thomd
Jun 16, 2013

I really enjoyed most of the stories in this collection, and who doesn't love Sherman Alexie? (Jun 3-15)

m
Mamahammer
Mar 07, 2013

Love this man.

ksoles Feb 18, 2013

Interpreter and observer, sometimes angry but always humourous, Sherman Alexie displays his mastery of the form in his latest collection of short stories.

The theme of "Blasphemy" occurs throughout the book; someone has always committed a sin though often not wittingly. One character, a heavy drinker in need of help to bail out some prized pawned regalia, remains a fundamentally decent person despite a lifetime of errors. Another laments that, once you start seeing your loved one as a criminal, love ceases to exist. As usual, Alexie mainly stages Indians of the Northwest as his protagonists but he includes endless possibilities for misinterpretation among his characters, as when a Spokane encounters three mysterious Aleuts who sing him only permissible songs: “All the others are just for our people.”

Longtime readers will find this profound, affecting collection full of both familiar themes and surprises.

o
okbookgirl
Jan 23, 2013

Alexie is a master of the short story. These stories are sometimes difficult, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking...but always amazing. His characters are mainly First Nation, but he writes about us all - trying to make it through, trying to be good people, getting into messes, making bad or good choices, being forgiven, finding redemption. It is hard to pick a favourite but I think mine is the closing story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem".

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Sherahughes
Jun 04, 2014

In this world we must love the liars or go unloved.

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