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Sherman Alexie | Biography, Books, & Facts |

Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, grew up on a reservation Alexie was born on October 7, , with hydrocephalus, a life-threatening "I' ve met so many writers who are so damn boring with their readings, people who . Poet, novelist, screen play and short story writer, Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/ Coeur d'Alene Indian, was born in He grew up on the Spokane Indian. Alexie is a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian born and raised in the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. His father held various.

I got a T-shirt with the quote on it. I loved the reaction. In some masochistic way, I love the really violent reviews more than the good reviews. I worried about being manipulative, especially when I wasn't a parent then. But there was an Indian kid being kidnapped and a white kid being kidnapped. Everyone failed to see any ambiguity. It's sold by far the least of all my books.

Indians didn't like it. It was the book that was hardest to write, that gave me the most nightmares, that still, to this day, troubles me the most because I can't even get a grasp on it. It's the only one I re-read. I think a book that disturbs me that much is the one I probably care the most about. He is so true to himself, especially when he's changing his mind, that he offends a lot of people.

Voice of the new tribes

They have a profound interest in looking at ugly things. Neither was ever interested in selling positive images, as far as I know. Musician Jim Boyd, the year-old winner of last year's Nammy the native American music award for his CD, AlterNatives, met Alexie 10 years ago at a folk festival and has collaborated with him since.

Sherman has gone against that and sometimes the truth hurts. A lot of things he writes about just weren't out there before. But a lot of the things he talked about needed to be said. I really admire him for that. And because he does everything - he writes novels and songs and poems and he's a comedian - he's an inspiration, especially for kids.

Alexie has tried to redress the balance by writing screenplays for Smoke Signals and The Business of Fancydancing, which he also directed. But Evan Adams, who acted in both films, argues that "Sherman has managed to almost single-handedly dismantle the popular and populist image of the American Indian.

He's given us a voice. It starred Nicolas Cage. Alexie says, "I don't think there's ever been such a failure of imagination going from the idea to what ended up on screen.

In his short story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven inhe wrote that "Indians can reside in the city but never live there. I believed that then! What changed me was September I am now desperately trying to let go of the idea of being right, the idea of making decisions based on imaginary tribes.

The terrorists were flying planes into the buildings because they thought they were right and they had special knowledge, and we continue to react. And we will be going to war in Iraq soon because we think we have special knowledge - and we don't.

We are making these decisions not based on any moral or ethical choice, but simply on the basis of power and money and ancient traditions that are full of shit, so I am increasingly suspicious of the word 'tradition', whether in political or literary terms.

When Junior's dog Oscar gets heat stroke, his father must put him down because they cannot afford to take him to a veterinarian. Junior's only childhood friend is Rowdy, a classmate who is abused at home and is known as a bully on the reservation.

Despite his intimidating role, Rowdy often stands up for Junior and they bond by enjoying kids' comics. Junior's first day of high school is pivotal to the plot of the novel. Angered and saddened by the fact that the reservation is so poor that it cannot afford new textbooks, Junior violently throws the book, which hits Mr. P's face, breaking his nose. When he visits Junior at home, Mr.

P convinces Junior to transfer to Reardan High School, sensing a degree of precociousness in the young teenager. The town of Reardan is far wealthier than Wellpinit—Junior is the only Indian at Reardan besides the team mascot. Rowdy, however, is upset by Junior's decision to transfer, and the once-best friends have very little contact during the year. Junior develops a crush on the school's most popular white girl, Penelope, and becomes study friends with an intelligent student named Gordy.

His interactions with the white students give him a better perspective both on white culture and his own. He realizes how much stronger his family ties are than those of his white classmates, noticing that many of the white fathers never come to their children's school events. Junior also realizes that the white students have different rules than those he grew up with, which is evident when he reacts to an insult from the school's star athlete, Roger, by punching him in the face.

Junior hit him, as he would have been expected to do on the reservation, and he expects Roger to get revenge. But Roger never does; in fact, Roger and his friends show Junior more respect. Junior also gets closer to Penelope, which makes him more popular with the other girls at the school. Roger suggests that Junior try out for the basketball team, and to Junior's surprise, he makes the varsity team, which pits him against his former school, Wellpinit, and specifically Rowdy, who is Wellpinit's star freshman.

Their first match demonstrates to Junior just how angry the reservation people are at him for transferring: During the game, Rowdy elbows Junior in the head and knocks him unconscious.

  • Sherman Alexie
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While suffering some injuries from the game, Junior and his coach become closer as Coach tells him that he admires Junior's commitment to the team. Later on, his grandmother, who Junior looks up to the most on the reservation, is hit and killed by a drunk driver. After his grandmother's funeral, a family friend, Eugene, is shot in the face by his friend Bobby after fighting over alcohol. After grieving and reflecting on his loved ones' deaths, Junior plays in his basketball team's second match against Wellpinit.

Reardan wins and Junior gets to block Rowdy. Junior feels triumphant until he sees the Wellpinit players' faces after their defeat and remembers the difficulties they face at home and their lack of hope for a future; ashamed, he runs to the locker room, where he vomits and then breaks down in tears.

Later, Junior receives news of the death of his sister and her husband who were killed in a fire at their trailer. In the course of the year, Junior and his family suffered many tragedies, many related to alcohol abuse. These events test Junior's sense of hope for a better future and make him wonder about the darker aspects of reservation culture. Furthermore, the protagonist is torn between the need to fit in his new, all-white school and holding on to his Indian heritage, leading him to face criticism from his own community.

Despite these challenges, they also help him see how much his family and his new friends love him, and he learns to see himself as both Indian and American. Meanwhile, Rowdy realizes that Junior is the only nomad on the reservation, which makes him more of a "traditional" Indian than everyone else in town. In the end, Junior and Rowdy reconcile while playing basketball and resolve to correspond no matter where the future takes them.

Profile: Sherman Alexie | Books | The Guardian

The only difference from Alexie's life and the novel is that Alexie threw the book against the wall out of anger, and did not hit anyone like Junior did. I'm a rez kid who's gone urban, and that's what I write about. So thanks to Cynthia Geary and Tom Skerritt. They each only worked for one day, but they created indelible characters. We had wonderful executives, as well. Amy Israel bought the film in for Miramax and she was an endless source of wisdom, humor, support, and imagination.

She was our constant champion. And she remains my dear friend. Such amazing and eternal voices. Without their song, Smoke Signals would not have ended so powerfully. He wrote songs for Smoke Signals. He also has a cameo at a house party where he plays guitar as my late mother and late father slow dance. Three beloved people, three people gone from this world. I miss them very much.

About Sherman Alexie: A Profile

And, oh, man, oh, man, I give many, many thanks for everybody at Seattle-based ShadowCatcher Entertainment. David Skinner and Scott Rosenfelt are awesome. And Larry Estes is one of the finest human beings that I have ever known. These guys grabbed my screenplay on a Thursday in February, read it over the weekend, came back that next Monday with a yes, and we were filming in May.

Chris and I were very fortunate.