Ten Little Indians

Alexie, Sherman

Published by Grove Press, 2003
ISBN 10: 0802117449 / ISBN 13: 9780802117441
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1st printing Signed and dated by the author on July 26, 2003 0.0. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: With Ten Little Indians Sherman Alexie offers nine new stories about Native Americans who, like all Americans, find themselves at personal and cultural crossroads, faced with heart-rending, tragic, sometimes wondrous moments of being that test their loyalties, their capacities, and their notions of who they are and who they love.

Review: Sherman Alexie, a gifted poet and storyteller, plows familiar yet fertile ground in his third collection of short stories, Ten Little Indians. The book contains nine stories populated by at least one American Indian (usually of Alexie's Spokane heritage, and mostly living in Seattle), but "little" is a bit of a misnomer; the book addresses human (not necessarily Indian), rituals, ceremony, love, loss, insecurity over life choices, and personal sacrifices. A lot of intense basketball is played, too.

When Alexie is at his best, his stories function at a profoundly sad level, where broken down characters are broken down even more, but are fierce-willed enough to attempt Phoenix-like transitions. Unfortunately, the weakest stories appear first, where characters and situations seem far too contrived or forced, the dialogue wooden, and questions or exclamatory sentences appear annoyingly in bunches. In the last half of the book, a married couple, once intensely in love but now lost in life's routines, deal with infidelity ("Do You Know Where I Am?"); a bright basketball prospect attempts a comeback--twenty years after giving up the game ("Whatever Happened to Frank Snake Church?"); and a transient Indian finds his grandmother's regalia in a pawn shop and seeks to quickly raise the lofty purchase price ("What You Pawn I Will Redeem"). Brilliant turns of phrase abound, such as ceremonies being "pitiful cries to a disinterested God," or when a gym rat plays against "Basketball-Democrats who came to the court alone and ran with anybody and Basketball-Republicans who traveled in groups of five and only ran with each other." Ten Little Indians is an uneven collection, but contains some significant, memorable stories. --Michael Ferch

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Ten Little Indians
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine
Edition: 1st Edition.

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