The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
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The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  14,230 ratings  ·  1,175 reviews
In this darkly comic short story collection, Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, brilliantly weaves memory, fantasy, and stark realizxsm to paint a complex, grimly ironic portrait of life in and around the Spoke Indian Reservation. These 22 interlinked tales are narrated by characters raised on humiliation and government-issue cheese, and yet are filled with pa...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published February 8th 2005 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1993)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichBeyond the World of Man by Sheryl SealReservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
Native American Fiction
2nd out of 463 books — 429 voters
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Monday
Aug 12, 2007 Monday rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone and everyone
This is one of my favorite books to teach. I give it to my tenth graders. We do most of it as a read aloud. We do most of it as discussion. My students enjoy this book because they don't think they'll be able to connect with native americans on the west coast when they're alt school kids on the east coast, but then they're amazed. Some themes - poverty, alcoholism, depression, love, passion, sex, confusion, loneliness, isolation - are universal.

This is one of the few books that I have read with...more
Mariel
Mar 02, 2011 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I'd rather dance with you
Recommended to Mariel by: Christy
"We have to believe in the power of imagination because it's all we have, and ours is stronger than theirs." - Lawrence Thornton

Make me jealous. If you can make me jealous, I am yours. I was kinda jealous of the community because they HAD one, despite tearing itself down in the no-past and no-future. I kinda loved these stories. I was almost belonging to it. Sometimes I felt lonely from the possessiveness of their heroes. That kinda sucked because I've been trying hard to avoid loneliness. Somet...more
Christy
Alexie's collection of linked short stories is a tale of life on an Indian reservation; it is an exploration of the ways in which Indians deal with the pains and the joys of their lives (storytelling, dance, basketball, food, alcohol); it is a reflection on the relationship between past, present, and future; and it is a meditation on storytelling as a means of bearing witness and as a means of creation and change.

The first story of the collection, "Every Little Hurricane," introduces both the fu...more
Emma (Miss Print)
"The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" is one of Sherman Alexie's first collections of short stories. The collection deals with the lives and troubles of Indian in and around the Spokane Indian Reservation. The stories also deal with characters that Alexie would later revisit in his novel "Reservation Blues" (specifically, Thomas Builds-the-Fire, Victor, and Junior).

In a 1996 interview with Tomson Highway, Alexie explains a bit about the title of this collection: "Kemosabe in Apache mea...more
Pamela
Aug 27, 2008 Pamela rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: To anyone interested in Native American authors...to EVERYONE....everyone should read this...
We need more authors like Sherman Alexie. Being Native American in the U.S. is like living in our own foreign country within a country. No one besides an Indian REALLY knows what it is like to live on a reservation. Alexie vividly paints this picture in a no-nonsense, brutally honest way. I love that. I wish general joe-public had more of a grasp of what growing up Native American is like instead of applying the age-old stigmas of uneducated diabetic drunks who run the casinos and play BINGO.

I...more
Christine
Jan 06, 2008 Christine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: aspiring writers, natives, anyone
Maybe Alexie's best book--rough and eloquent, sweet and brutal, smoky and colorful and moving, always honest--made we want to write so bad it hurt. I found it in City Lights in SF when I was on a $300 Tercel-no-air-conditioning but a pup tent honeymoon. It's a book I always go back to. Have been following his work since...god, a long time. First went to a fiction panel he was on at Writers@Work, then in bright white Park City. My husband was the only native in the audience, maybe in the building...more
Lee
Apr 15, 2007 Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in past and contemporary struggles of american indians
Shelves: alreadyread
alexie's most famous book. was developed into the indie-movie hit smoke signals. a collection of inter-connected short stories that follows a few central characters through reservation life in the latter half of the 20th century. american indian myth, religion, and traditional culture all are addressed by alexie as he attempts to find a place for them in contemporary life. also, the paradox (and alexie seems to argue, at times, crutch) of the reservation is exposed. alexie's prose is wonderful a...more
Libby
Jul 27, 2007 Libby rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone everywhere
This is the book that really made me fall in love with Sherman Alexie, made me want to name my cat after him, made me go on to read everything I could find of his. I had seen the movie Smoke Signals, which was written by Alexie based on this book, a few years before and though I had liked it very much and my mother has me do my Victor/Thomas calls often, it took me awhile to actually read the collection of stories the film was based on. Alexie has a repetitive way of writing, that you don't real...more
Evonne
OMG... So glad that I'm done with this book!
Terence
Apr 17, 2011 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Friend at work
A tepid 3 stars for this collection. A friend at work is an Alexie fan, and when I came across this book for 50 cents at the library, I picked it up. None of the stories were bad, some were quite good, but I never connected with any of them emotionally, and too many felt self-consciously contrived.

There were two moments of connection, however, that make me willing to read more Alexie and just pushed this volume into the 3-star range.

The first one comes up in "Because My Father Always Said He Was...more
Lisa
I went through different emotions while reading this book. The first time I picked it up I read a few pages and decided I wasn't in the mood to read it. This last time I picked it up I actually thought it was a different book, but read it anyway.

It's interesting the way Alexie writes, combining vulgarity with such a poetic voice. The first story made me want to put the book down again, but my brother convinced me to trudge on. The second story had a bit of what I assumed my brother loved about...more
Alex
May 08, 2008 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: native american lit fans
Recommended to Alex by: Kevin
Shelves: fiction
Sherman Alexi definitely has a different style from the basic writer. While not bad, those people who are very uppity about grammar and sentence structure may be put off by it. Although I'm an editor, I found I was able to look past the style since it wasn't over the top and added a certain feel to his work.

Possibly one of the funniest pieces in this collection of short stories is "The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor." Although the topic is death, it's light-hearted and amusing and gives a...more
Graphicskat
I was rooting for this one - really, I was. It's about Native Americans on the reservation, for crying out loud. You have to root for the underdog! I was trying so hard to care.

Well, I stopped caring. It was hard to make heads or tails of most of the stories, and even when I did, they didn't go anywhere. Maybe that was the point, but I didn't like it.
Francesca Forrest
I loved everything about this book. I loved every story. I loved the language, and I loved the tales told in the language. I liked that Alexie makes his magic, his transformations, work on a sentence-by-sentence level, and yet the whole story can be transformational, too. My favorite character is Thomas Builds-the-Fire, hero of the stories "A Drug Called Tradition," "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," and "The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire." He knows when to keep silent and when t...more
RandomAnthony
Sherman Alexie can flat-out write, but this book, while strong, is uneven. There are some stunning, beautiful passages along with some standard early-career passages. I liked the book enough to read more Alexie, but I don't see myself pulling it back off the shelf too often.
Jendimmick
In this compilation of short fiction stories, Sherman Alexie shows the sempiternal hardships and difficulties that Native Americans endure. The Native Americans in this book are located on Spokane Reservation, Washington State. Through the book’s depiction of this multi tribal society, the reader is presented with the conflicts and strife the Spokane people face. Alcoholism and discrimination run rampant in the lives of these Native Americans, who endlessly try to find their identity amidst a na...more
Bondama
I can't write or say enough about Sherman Alexie. This is his first book, a book of short stories - the movie, "Smoke Signals" was made from this book, and I truly can't recommend it enough. Each story is short, sometimes because the pain depicted in the story is too much, but again, sometimes one has to stop reading, simply because Alexie is so damn funny!

In describing himself growing up, he says " I was short and very skinny, but I had huge feet. When I turned sideways, I looked like the lette...more
Caroline
It was so hard for me to read this book with fresh eyes, given that I've seen the movie based on it several times (Smoke Signals). Without having seen the movie, I think I would have felt pretty ungrounded in these little snippets of stories, but I guess that's sort of the point. This isn't supposed to hang together in any logical order; it reads more like an ethnography than a novel, with nostalgic musings on alcohol, racism, and that annoying kid on the playground who's always trying to tell y...more
Shayla
Well, I still like Alexie, but I had higher hopes for this collection of short stories, because I really loved Ten Little Indians. The duality and complexity that I've found in his other books and short stories was missing for me in this collection. I didn't really laugh or cry and instead, I just felt blah by most of the stories. My two favorites were DISTANCES and INDIAN EDUCATION. It's not like these two stories were the most upbeat or anything, in fact far from it, but they really resonated...more
Madeline
Sherman Alexie makes his short stories feel like poems. All very well-written, albeit depressing. Funny at the most inappropriate times, and very entertaining.
Three other equally good Alexie novels: Ten Little Indians, Flight, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Eric
Oct 03, 2011 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Short story fans, those interested in contemporary Native American culture
Recommended to Eric by: Mike Reineke
Shelves: short-stories
This is another book I was told about by someone that read it as a school assignment. My friend Mike introduced it to me while we were hanging out in Brigantine, New Jersey, and I finished it over that long weekend.

The stories are poignant and the writing is good -- Sherman Alexie has a distinct style that I enjoyed reading. A lot of the stories are funny and at the same time sad.

I understand that in 1998, Smoke Signals, a movie based on the book was made. I have not yet seen it.
sydney
A book of funny and melancholy short stories about life on the Spokane Indian reservation. Alcoholism, family, basketball, car crashes, mythology, tradition, love, and mistrust. I liked the fact that the main characters show up in most of the stories, and each story informs the others by filling in missing information. I also liked that Alexie constantly references pieces of American history and culture-- Crazy Horse, Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, the 1980 Olympics boycott-- because it grounds the...more
Emily
Jun 28, 2007 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who reads books worth reading
No one can convince me that Sherman Alexie isn't one of the greatest writers alive today. Like all his work, this book weaves together the tragic, the mundane and the hilarious without an ounce of self-pity from the characters. As they move through their lives, Alexie's characters take you with them without any effort. His prose is stunning and his skill in conveying experiences about which most of us know nothing approaches genius (if not surpasses it). I heart Sherman Alexie.
Ceilidh
Love love love Sherman Alexie and the way he tells stories about the power of words. Great mix of black comedy and heart-wrenching, but never cloying, social commentary. Highly recommend his work if you've never read it before.
HBalikov
Alexie has had a long and illustrious writing career. This book of short stories was written when he was just a "promising" poet. The new edition celebrating its 25th anniversary contains an interview with the author. It is notable for the humor of a man who never expected to be noticed as a writer.

The book is an amazing vehicle for Alexie's anger with: clever word-play, humor, mystic imagery, and poignant situations dramatizing the clash of cultures.

Selected quotations to give you a sense of A...more
Elaine Bearden
high school - adult
I read this book because I loved "The True Story of a Part-Time Indian" so much and I wanted to read more by Sherman Alexie. While I enjoyed the stories, I felt that it was difficult to put them all together. (I might add that this could be because I read it in small pieces before I went to bed every night, so that could have clouded my opinion :) I enjoyed immensely Alexie's sense of place and palpable emotions - reminds me of Francisco X. Stork's "The Last Summer of the Deat...more
Lisa Butterworth
I have no idea what this book was about really, but I loved reading it. It's a collection of short stories set on a Northern Idaho Indian reservation, the stories are not at all linear, not literal, not any sort of narrative that I (not a literature wonk) can describe.

In one story Tom Builds-the-Fire tells stories, but no one listens, no one has listened for years, but he keeps telling the stories because he can't help it, not even after the other boys reject him, mock him, beat him to a pulp....more
Julie
Apr 15, 2010 Julie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ...short story fans
Recommended to Julie by: I'd read another of Alexie's books.
I just consumed this book in one sitting, for good reasons and bad.

Good: Alexie writes very smoothly; he definitely gets his picture of life on the Spokane reservation across...

Bad: ...repeatedly. As in, halfway through the book I was thinking, "I get it. I get it." Also, I did not know this was going to be a book of short stories, and because the first few seemed loosely connected (they all seem to be about Victor) it really lost me when it wandered off into the other stories which were only co...more
Cammie Bishop
This book is excellent. I will definitely be reading more books by Sherman Alexie. I like the short story format and the way it covered so many points of view. All of the characters were interesting, and Alexie makes you sympathize with them even when you don't really want to. Although the stories do get very sad, there is much dark humor. It evoked a wide range of emotions and kept me wanting to read more all the way through. It also kept me guessing at the outcomes of the stories and surprise...more
Mark
“…I used to sleep with my books in piles all over my bed and sometimes they were the only thing keeping me warm and always the only thing keeping me alive.”

This collection of bittersweet tales, about life on a Spokane Indian Reservation, is a revelation. Alexie based these linked stories on his own experiences, growing up on the Rez and here he focuses on a small group of young people, struggling against a doomed life of poverty and alcoholism, trying to maintain their dignity, their culture and...more
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Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane, WA. Alexie has published 18 books to date.
Alexie is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman's best known works in...more
More about Sherman Alexie...
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“We're all travelling heavy with illusions.” 79 likes
“Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don't wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is.” 52 likes
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