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The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  19,817 Ratings  ·  1,620 Reviews
In this darkly comic short story collection, Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, brilliantly weaves memory, fantasy, and stark realism 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 pass ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published March 28th 2005 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published September 1st 1993)
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Jul 27, 2007 Casey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 27, 2011 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 22, 2008 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To anyone interested in Native American 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.

Mar 10, 2015 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven last night on the way to a speech Alexie was giving. I had enjoyed it well enough—Alexie was consistently funny and thought provoking through the entire collection—but it wasn't until afterwards, in a book signing and meet and greet that I actually got it. As I got up to the table, it became clear that I was a bit anxious. I don't do well in crowds, and I was a bit star stuck by his presence. So as I rambled through my words, he finished s ...more
Dec 23, 2007 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Aug 03, 2007 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2014 Evonne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
OMG... So glad that I'm done with this book!
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.
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.
Apr 14, 2007 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2007 Libby rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 02, 2007 Madeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Wiebke (1book1review)
I flew through this book and really enjoyed the stories about the reservation and the recurring characters.
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
It really isn't fair of me to rate or review this book, because it is very clearly not written for me. It's like asking your 100 year old grandmother to review a Metallica concert. Like asking your six year old to review sashimi. Like asking your husband to rate the pain of childbirth. Like asking a white woman to review the stories of a Native American man.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a collection of short stories about the experiences of various Spokane Indians living on th
Feb 06, 2010 Terence rated it liked it  ·  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
Dec 13, 2007 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 08, 2008 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2008 Shayla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bbc-book-club
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
Jul 28, 2014 HBalikov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Francesca Forrest
Feb 18, 2014 Francesca Forrest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
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
Apr 15, 2010 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  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
This is the 20th anniversary publication of the short story collection that launched Sherman Alexie as a major voice of the Indian reservation and the experience of being brown-skinned in America. Painful, insightful. The new prologue helps the reader understand the context of particular stories and the extent to which they are autobiographical.

The experiences certainly feel true (the white police officer who demands all the money one character has in his car to avoid a spurious citation and ar
May 30, 2014 Marit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
Alexie's first major literary accomplishment waxes and wanes in its power and comprehensibility. The pathos of each story never falters, each one packing an emotional punch. The tragedy of the various individuals of this modern-day Spokane community is alleviated by dark, self-deprecating humor and more rarely, but more long-lasting, by an almost gentle and unnervingly strong acceptance of what-is. That acceptance of what-is allows some characters to fall apart without recrimination or judgement ...more
I love this book of short stories and Indian philosophy and my notes on it are full of quotes, such as:
“There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is 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. Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams and voices. And they can trap you in the in between, between touching and becoming. But they’re not nece
May 01, 2011 Bondama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 18, 2007 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mississippi Library Commission
Sherman Alexie, we want you to write more books. Want? Need. The stories in this book deftly bring to light America's marginalized native people. We see their love, their humor, and their pain, and it's simply beautiful. A re-read of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is definitely in order, but TLRATFIH is one to savor and return to again as well.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Storyteller
  • The Way to Rainy Mountain
  • Tracks
  • Fools Crow
  • The Grass Dancer
  • Solar Storms
  • The Surrounded
  • Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto
  • In Mad Love and War
  • Perma Red
  • Medicine River
  • Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present
  • Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing
  • The Powwow Highway
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 about Sherman Alexie...

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“We're all travelling heavy with illusions.” 99 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.” 76 likes
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