Friday, November 11, 2016

The Toughest Indian In the World by Sherman Alexie

When one reads realistic fiction, you expect to see the many areas of life with which we all wrestle: love, lust, anger, fear, sadness, joy and so on.  This is why reading books of short stories can be so rewarding.  I felt each of these emotions in turn as I read: Saint Junior describes the love between a man a wife and what that love means as time ticks by.  Assimilation tells about an American Indian woman (Coeur d’Alene) married to a white man who wants to have sex with an Indian man.  Any Indian man. Class gives the reader the story of an Indian man married to “the tenth most beautiful white woman in the room” and how he processes the resentment of her affairs and the loss of their child.  The entirety of Sin Eaters is filled with a terror that steadily creeps along your skin as you read about a future in which American Indians are captured and forced to reproduce.  Indian Country tells of a successful writer who discovers that his long-distance lover has eloped with another man and finds himself in the middle of a tense dinner with mostly strangers. South by Southwest is about a man who holds up an IHOP and takes a hostage, hoping to discover love.  The collection’s final story, One Good Man, ticked all of these boxes while continually asking the question: What is an Indian?

Sherman Alexie’s The Toughest Indian in the World is a book of stories written by a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene man who has spent his life thinking and writing about being an American Indian. It is a heartfelt look at life and the many types of people who inhabit it. Alexie is also the author of many other books of short stories including The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and the acclaimed Young Adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Check out some of his fiction at the library today.