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Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

Reservation Blues (original 1995; edition 2005)

by Sherman Alexie

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1,537214,778 (3.91)46
Title:Reservation Blues
Authors:Sherman Alexie
Info:Grove Press (2005), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie (1995)

  1. 30
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Contemporary fiction about searching for identity
  2. 30
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Both deal with ethnic conflict and searching for identity.

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Was told what a great writer he is. I finished it, but apparently do not appreciate his style. Came away with the many negative emotions, but not the gist. ( )
  busterrll | Feb 25, 2015 |
Reservation Blues is a wonderfully intriguing novel by Sherman Alexie. It is set on the reservation of the Spokane Indian tribe and essentially tells the story of a Native American band, Coyote Springs. The band forms accidentally, has an impromptu rise and a spectacular fall. But it really isn’t that simple. Alexie has woven a wonderful tale of characters and story elements that are both predictable and completely unexpected. I enjoyed this book from start to finish. ( )
  BradKautz | Sep 13, 2014 |
My book club really had a good discussion on this book. I had a hard time reading it--I've had too much of authors who make bad jokes. I get it, that making a joke of your pain is often the only way you can deal with it, but it just didn't make for a great book. Big Mom was initially presented as a wise woman, but her role got watered down to just focusing on music instruction. OK, there wasn't room in the story for her to really help people deal with their larger problems. ( )
  juniperSun | Mar 31, 2014 |
A group of Spokane Indians form a rock and blues band with the help -- if "help" is quite the right word -- of Robert Johnson's supernaturally gifted guitar. Although that description doesn't give any true sense of what this novel is about. What it's really about is the blues, both the musical and the existential kinds, about what it means be an American Indian in the modern world, and what life on a reservation can do to people. I suppose you'd call it magic realism, although what it emphatically isn't is the kind of romanticized New Age-y mysticism that white people like to associate with Native Americans. (Alexie has some rather uncomplimentary things to say about that stuff.)

The story is a little unfocused, and I don't think this is nearly as sharp and powerful as his The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. But I was deeply impressed by that book, so don't take that statement as any kind of insult. Alexie's just a damned good writer, and, fantasy elements or not, there's always a strong feeling of truth to his work. ( )
3 vote bragan | Mar 7, 2014 |
It takes only a page or two of Reservation Blues to realize that Sherman Alexie is a gifted writer. His characters live and breathe, move in unexpected ways through the story, and continually fascinate. The Spokane Indian Reservation feels, too, like a real place: He captures the desolation, the grinding poverty, the hopelessness, and the bonds that tie the residents to the place and to each other. Alexie spins the plot out of small things, but conveys (without ever coming out and saying so) that, for the characters, these things are immense, and the stakes enormous.

It also takes only a few pages that Alexie is interested in layering the fantastic and the magical into his sharply observed story of the real. The arrival of Robert Johnson, the legendary bluesman – still running, after all these years, from “The Gentleman” to whom he once bartered his soul at a southern crossroads – pretty much takes care of that. Big Mom, the Indian woman to whom Johnson turns for help, likewise has only one foot in our world. So, for that matter, does Alexie’s hero: Thomas Builds-the-Fire, whose music comes from a someplace magical, and whose dreams link him (if not always in ways he understands) to the dark and troubled history of Indians in America.

It takes more than a few pages (or a few chapters) to realize that the magical-mystical elements of Alexie’s story never quite gel with the here-and-now elements (gritty social realism, leavened with humor) into a satisfying whole. It takes the better part of the book, and when it ends you’re left with a slightly baggy-feeling plot full of unresolved threads. By then, though, it doesn’t matter. By then, Alexie has you so wrapped up in the characters and their story that you don’t mind in the slightest. ( )
1 vote ABVR | Oct 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sherman Alexieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexie, ShermanLyrics, Coyote Springs songssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, JimLyrics, Coyote Springs songssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, RobertWords and musicsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McClain, RachelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Minor, WendellCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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God's old lady, she sure is a big chick.
-- Charles Mingus
I went to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
-- Robert Johnson
for Diane

for Etta Adams
First words
In the one hundred and eleven years since the creation of the Spokane Indian Reservation in 1881, not one person, Indian or otherwise, had ever arrived there by accident.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802141900, Paperback)

Sherman Alexie has been hailed as “one of the best writers we have” (The Nation). Reservation Blues is his “irresistibly stunning debut novel” (San Francisco Chronicle). One day legendary bluesman Robert Johnson appears on the Spokane Indian reservation, in flight from the devil and presumed long dead. When he passes his enchanted instrument to Thomas-Builds-the-Fire—storyteller, misfit, and musician—a magical odyssey begins that will take them from reservation bars to small-town taverns, from the cement trails of Seattle to the concrete canyons of Manhattan. This is a fresh, luxuriantly comic tale of power, tragedy, and redemption among contemporary Native Americans.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Legendary bluesman, Robert Johnson, arrives at a Spokane Indian reservation and passes his guitar to a young boy leading them around the country sounding chords of celebration and survival.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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