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War Dances by Sherman Alexie
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War Dances (2009)

by Sherman Alexie

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War Dances by Sherman Alexie

A nice mix of short stories and poetry by an insightful writer. I sometimes got confused about how much of his writings were his personal truths or if he was telling others' stories or just making up stories. It was all very honest. He understands the inner workings of people.

What stood out for me was his story about Elder Briggs, a young man killed in the midst of a burglary, and how one moment in time can change so many lives. It also was thought-provoking in how those affected by tragedy can look at the same situation in different ways in order to find a comfortable scapegoat on which to place the blame. It was an interesting study on human nature. None of us want to be the ones at fault.

Also, his poem about watching a man intentionally swerving his car to try to hit a stray dog, and how a witness to that terrible act has to make a decision about whether to do anything about it...or not...when their own personal safety may be in jeopardy.

There are snippets about life as a Native American (or really insert any minority) which are telling when describing them having to tolerate ignorance, such as an interview with an old-timer recalling a brave act by an American Indian soldier in WWII who saved others' lives at the risk of his own, and even in the honored way the old soldier spoke of his former buddy's courage, he still made light of the fact that they called him "Chief". Another story recalls a little boy raging against a blatant deception, and then being referred to as "Little Crazy Horse".

This is veering off track here, but I need to try to relieve some personal guilt or vent a bit. I was a kid in the 70s in a very small town where the predominant tribal people are Lakota Sioux, and remarks like this were used, although most people around me were oblivious to how hurtful these digs could be, and probably would have felt terrible if they were made aware. It was the general insensitivity of the times, especially in an area that had no diversity to speak of. It's easy to make fun of a general anonymous group of people when you'll never have to look them in the eye. Back then, we told "Polack" jokes or "Ole & Lena" jokes (Scandinavian version) with the same blase' attitude and umbrella stereotyping as today's blonde jokes. We had common terms for things that had lost their original (derogatory) meaning for my generation. We as kids honestly didn't know better; anything we would have said would have been repeated from what we heard adults say, kind of like in today's world you can ask any 6- or 7-year-old kid who they would vote for in the presidential election and they will have very strong opinions which will immediately let you know whether their parents are conservative or liberal. As a whole we now know about the need for tolerance/kindness/fairness. We now know. Let's move in the right direction and make sure we are teaching our children to be better than we have been. ( )
1 vote AddictedToMorphemes | Jun 5, 2016 |
Is there such a thing as irreverently reverent? I love what Sherman Alexie has to say through his stories. War Stories and Senator's Son were my favorites. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Alexie can tell stories that are full of familial love without becoming sentimental. The stories here for the most part have a light touch and venture only rarely into more difficult territory. Everyone gets along fairly well in these stories, with the exception of the narrator of the first story and the boy who breaks into his basement. I felt well taken care of by this collection--it is thoughtful, but not too challenging. I'm still trying to reconcile this lighter side of Alexie with the person who wrote Indian Killer. ( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
I enjoyed this collection of short stories and poetry by Sherman Alexie. They are fun, passionate and witty and filled with larger themes of identity and belonging, pride, redemption and failure. A captivating writer. One of my favorite collections of short stories. ( )
  Berly | Jan 28, 2015 |
An eclectic mix of short story and poetry. Some is endearing, some engaging, some is somewhat dark, most of it is interspersed with Alexie's wry humour. For me, not all of it worked, but it's worth it for when the story and/or the humour works, because then it's really good. ( )
  devilish2 | Jan 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Alexie’s appealing collection of short stories, poems and self-interrogations opens with an attempted murder and closes with an epitaph. Mortality is much on the mind of this puckish writer, who continues to sift common truths through the sieve of his Indian identity, albeit with the alacrity of a man barreling away from his youth.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sherman Alexieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, ChaseAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, Charles RueCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Elisabeth, Morgan, Eric, and Deb
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Back in college when I was first learning how to edit film--how to construct a scene--my professor, Mr. Baron, said to me, "You don't have to show people using a door to walk into a room.
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Tour à tour désopilant , fantaisiste , poétique ou sardonique , cet indien-là a une eztraordinaire propension à rire e tout : des sien , de leur travers et des conformimes comme de leurs qualities et de leur naïveté , mais il sait aussi rire de lui meme...
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A collection of short stories includes the title story, in which a famous writer, who just learned he may have a brain tumor, must decide how to care for his distant, American Indian father who is slowly dying.

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