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Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
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Reservation Blues (1995)

by Sherman Alexie

Other authors: Sherman Alexie (Lyrics, Coyote Springs songs), Jim Boyd (Lyrics, Coyote Springs songs), Robert Johnson (Words and music)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,764255,967 (3.92)57
  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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» See also 57 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Funny and sad... ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
Witty, serious, humane, raging, life-affirming, and tragic: life among today's Spokane Indians, with their ramshackle HUD housing, their commodity applesauce, their cheap beer, and their mixed religions. No punches are pulled, and many are thrown as Thomas Builds-the-Fire, Victor Joseph, and Junior Polatkin get a hold of Robert Johnson's guitar and ride it where it takes them.

It's Indian culture that is the true protagonist of this book, the story and the characters existing mainly to draw its portrait, and not Indian culture as you've seen it in the movies and television. There are no medicine men here, no stern warriors, no elderly chiefs full of strength and wisdom. Instead we've got young people suffering the effects of abuse and neglect and older adults beaten by disappointment, alcoholism, and bad choices. It's grim, but it's never boring, and never quite too much to take. This is partly because of the bleak but restorative laughter that comes back again and again to lighten the mood, and partly because there's so much to learn here about the human spirit and how it survives no matter the circumstances. It leaves you strangely confident that someday, somehow, the Indians will have healed from what's been done to them. ( )
  john.cooper | Aug 29, 2017 |
Reservation Blues was the first novel I've read by Sherman Alexie. I'd heard so many good things about him - and I don't think a single negative word - that I went into this book assuming I'd love it. I didn't.

The story follows a series of reservation folks who want to start a band. There's a lot of Magical Realism stuff going on, and a whole bunch of dream sequences (many of which I skimmed or skipped because I have zero patience for ten-page long dream sequences). There were plenty of parables shoved in there too, with obvious morals like "be careful what you wish for," and "don't be a drunk."

I was fine with the story, though the pace was slow enough and the path was obvious enough that it didn't really get me excited. The writing was fine. Not particularly tight but not overly flowery either. I guess that's about how I'd sum up the book as a whole: Fine. ( )
  agnesmack | Aug 6, 2016 |
I feel that this book had more to offer than what I could get out of it. There were things I definitely did not grasp fully. A definite reread. ( )
  KimKimpton | Jul 14, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sherman Alexieprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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)

Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in 1931, and was murdered seven years later. He reappears in 1992 on the Spokane Indian Reservation and meets Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who starts Coyote Springs, an all-Indian Catholic rock-and-roll band.

» see all 4 descriptions

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