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The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and…
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The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems

by Sherman Alexie

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This hauntingly beautiful collection of poems and short stories is a gritty account of life on the reservation. It's a fast read, but one should savour each poem, going slowly and taking the time to be absorbed into this world. Though the life portrayed is hard—full of disappointment and failed dreams—there is a unmistakable lining of hope, and of the promise of family ties. By mixing prose and poetry, Sherman Alexie reaches into deep into native American culture as it is, both the good and the bad. ( )
  mmcdwl | Sep 24, 2015 |
Poems and Stories to Connect with the Soul

It is hard to know where to begin in a review of this collection of stories and poems evocative of the life and culture of the Native American people in today's society; life on the reservation, simply to say that the writing is fantastic... excellent and opens up your heart and soul to the myriad emotions held up like a mirror, right in your face.

The language used is both poetic and earthy, uncomfortable at times, and yet makes you listen, draws you in and connects with you on a level that is deeply emotional, almost visceral and presents the subjects of his writing in a way that we cannot ignore or gloss over. Excellent writing, both in the stories and poems leaves us thinking deeply on all that we have read, and heard. ( )
  cedargrove | Jan 22, 2013 |
A short book full of poems and stories centered on modern life around the reservation. There are times when the writing is deep and emotional, times when it is laid back and thoughtful and times when the story is only that; a story told to those who are listening. It is all very modern-creative type writing with a deeper meaning settled somewhere within, but it is all so beautifully done that you might just find yourself revisiting the book again and again. You might even have a different experience each time you do, but it will always be a wonderful journey. ( )
  mirrani | Dec 22, 2012 |
I'm totally not trying to hack on native writing, here or anywhere. Nor am I hacking on free post-secondary education for natives, which I absolutely support. I am merely noting that if you are interested in being a writer and can go to school for as long as you want for free, then it seems obvious to start with, like, an MFA; and this is neither the time or the place to dwell on the mewling sameness that creative-writing programs churn out, but anyone who has been through one will know what I'm talking about.


Sherman Alexie is a bracing antidote to all that. This is down-on-the-reserve shit, and fuckin' damn right, right? People need that in their faces, delivered by someone who isn't in it to shock or appall, just to quietly say "this is how it is", and even more quietly, at the end: "justify it. I dare you." And so when he does get shocking, like with the awful story about the kid in the house full of fireworks, it doesn't come across as sensationalistic or exploitative. It comes across as cold and angry as a blade. But those aren't the moments that stick with you, really, nevertheless. It's the moments of helplessness: I vanished into the implications of that bit right at the start, that could have served as an epigram: "Every highway in the world crosses some reservation, cuts it in half."


Colonial logic. We think we're so beyond it, but here are the people still bound by its visible concrete chains. Give them the waste land, then put a federal highway across it. This land is so bountiful and we were so greedy; and in Alexie I see a tempered warrior--someone who might have been a bit wild, once, a bit self-destructive, with that black pit inside--someone who found his voice and direction, I'll even say his cause, but remembered that he was Crazy Horse inside, and needed to stay that way. The Crazy Horse references fly thick and fast. Someone who learned reflection, melancholy, even the uses of same as weapons too. Someone who shows us pain, and dares us to justify it. That's a warrior if anyone is. Noble and sad. ( )
  MeditationesMartini | Jun 29, 2010 |
Sherman Alexie's fantastic first collection of short stories and poems. Full of insight, anger and humor. Loved every word of it. ( )
  duckwood | Jun 21, 2008 |
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My eyes were closed tight in the reservation November night and the three in the morning highway was the longest in tribal history.
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The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems (1992) is Sherman Alexie's anthology of stories and poems. Please distinguish between it and other similarly-titled Works for a single story or poem, and from the video (2002) and screenplay (2003) adaptations. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0914610007, Paperback)

Poetry. Fiction. Published in 1992, well before Sherman Alexie became well-known as the screenwriter for the film SMOKE SIGNALS, THE BUSINESS OF FANCYDANCING has now been turned into a film with none other than Alexie himself in his directorial debut. The screenplay for the movie, which recently won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, is loosly adapted from this book. Many film-goers will want to visit or revisit the elegaic poems and stories that set the tone for the film itself. "In an age when many 'Native American' writers publish books that prove their ignorance of the real Indian world, Sherman Alexie paints painfully honest visions of our beautiful and brutal lives"—Adrian C. Louis.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Former Spokane Reservation best friends, Seymour and Aristotle have taken different paths when they are brought together for the funeral of an old friend. Both went off to college; one is now a successful poet, the other returned home embittered. Tensions and resentments flare as they meet again.… (more)

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