It was an interesting read...actually listen. Read by some British guy who did an awesome job with all the different character voices. The language wa...moreIt was an interesting read...actually listen. Read by some British guy who did an awesome job with all the different character voices. The language was a little hard to follow since I didn't learn English in the 19th century, but some of it was cool to hear how i'm guessing people spoke them, although I think the story takes place in the mid-1700s. Either way, it's intriguing to hear how people used to say what we say now. The dude's rendering of Long John Silver was the best!(less)
I don't think it's fair for me to star this because I only got several pages in.
At first, I thought this guy's argument was intriguing, or maybe more...moreI don't think it's fair for me to star this because I only got several pages in.
At first, I thought this guy's argument was intriguing, or maybe more his provocative statements were something I was willing to give a chance if for no other reason than their shock value.
But, I put the book down. And it stayed down.
Despite my desire to prove Malebranche wrong, that I DID give his book a try, I WAS man enough to do it!...I could not.
Alas, I believe I've fallen into his "gay" category, which for Malebranche unequivocally means "feminine," "effeminate," and/ or "female."
But Malebranche will never be gay again!
Of course, he's not straight either.
If I remember rightly (because I've already returned this book to the library well before my three-week borrowing limit was reached), Malebranche described himself and other MEN like him as "same-sex-inclined" men. Inclined to what? Have sex with? Oh well then, YOU'RE GAY.
But no, Malebranche is not gay! He has spent some years in the gay world, that hyper-liberal, drag/ queen infested cesspool of limp wrists and glitter, which we all know is the depth and scope entirely of what it means to be gay. No, Malebranche is no longer gay, because to be gay=to be a woman. And what man would want to be that?!
In fact, in the 10 or so pages I read, Malebranche not only hardly mentions women and lesbians at all, he extols the great human achievements throughout history that MEN have achieved. He is so proud of MASCULINE men that he just wants to fuck the shit out of all of them and leave the women of the world to fuck off. He also comes to the defense of straight men who are continually burdened with the task of differentiating themselves from being identified as gay.
Interestingly, I do find some value in the argument against running around blaming straight dudes for everything. Although straight dudes benefit from institutional patriarchy every day, not every straight dude is responsible for all the ills of society. In fact, I know some really cool straight dudes who are aware of their privilege and who try to minimize their oppressiveness towards others--thanks, friends!
I also think it's ridiculous to think of gay or queer men as "less of a man" because they have sex with other men. It's up to the individual to decide for themselves what gender they identify as anyway.
But what's troubling to me about that argument from Malebranche, the argument that he's tired of gay guys getting dicked around and treated as less than a man, is that if you are "less of a man," then it follows that you must be "more of a woman." That's not necessarily a problem for me, but it is for Malebranche and I would imagine for his league of manly non-gay men followers, and that's what bothers me. To me, the first pages of Malebranche's book are nothing less than a proclamation of his hatred of women and anything typically associated with them, as in femininity. It is clear that Malebranche does not regard them as equals to men, and to me that means he thinks of them as less than human.
I'm sure Malebranche would be the first to try to prove me wrong about himself, that he regards women equally, that I should have read the rest of the book for a chapter entitled "Why Women Are Awesome" or "I Have a Friend Who's a Woman" (much like how a lot of white people like to say, "I'm not racist, I have a black friend"). Truth is, I don't even know the guy or most of his book, but the important thing is that I didn't even get past the second chapter before I threw in the towel. To me, that says I'd rather spend my time doing something more to help humanity than invest in more crap that is creating division.
I can empathize with this guy's apparent need to separate himself from a community that he does not see himself a part of. But I really think this is a matter of semantics. Anyone can identify as "gay" and then define what that means to them in terms of their own identity. I sometimes identify as gay, at other times queer, but I get to choose what that means to me. This dude is no longer able to do that, and I feel sad for him. Of course, I also am having a reaction to his splintering off, so what does that say about me?
That I hate his hatred for women.
I also recognize a niggling desire to finish the book just to prove I'm MAN enough to do, just to take up his challenge to read through his blithering social and political opinions to try to take it seriously for long enough to hear him out....
Only time will tell....
The funniest thing about this is that I found in the...you guessed it....Lesbian, GAY, Bisexual, and Transgender section of the library! Lulz!
I listened to this book (something I've been doing a lot of these days) and find that listening adds another dimension to books. I feel this especiall...moreI listened to this book (something I've been doing a lot of these days) and find that listening adds another dimension to books. I feel this especially about "The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian" because it is read by the author, Sherman Alexie. I had never heard Alexie speak, and it seemed quite abrupt and loud at first, but I got used to his voice quickly and found myself enjoying his reading of Junior's narration. Alexie's is a voice that sounds as though it has been practiced at reading poetry. I found a lot of the lines poetic too, although I can't quote any not having the book. Alexie also knows when to speed up his reading, when to slow it down, when to be loud and when to be quiet. He's even practiced at sounding sorrowful and as though he is about to cry at a sad time.
I found this audiobook in the "family" section at the library, which is usually made up of young adult fiction. I read someone else's review of this book, and they said they had not realized it was geared toward young adults until a third of the way through. It don't know if it's marketed for young adults or not. I would imagine so just because of the age of the narrator (14), but it also seems to be being narrated by him from an older age, if only slightly (it is in past tense after all). But even so, I think the narration can appeal to young adults and older adults. Junior and his thoughts and feelings are definitely more complex than some of the narrators in YA novels I've read, but I think Alexie does a good job in being able to reach audiences of different ages. Some of the thought processes are sophisticated and abstract, but mostly Junior is just a kid on the rez telling it like it is. He's definitely different than most as he points out, not in a show-off way, but just knowing from a young age that he is "definitely a weird kid" because he feels he is weird and awkward, but also because, as he begins to see himself throughout the novel, he is able to slowly start thinking outside the typical limitations of the rez. He is able to see that if he gives up on himself, he will become just another rez dude he sees all the time, drinking and being unhappy. On the other hand, he is able to empathize with those dudes, including his father, his best friend Rowdy, Rowdy's dad, and his dad's best friend (forget the name), and he is able to admire the beauty in the rez and life there and the things he sees as universal to Native American culture: family, connecting with people and really knowing them instead of shutting down and burning bridges, celebrating, tolerance.
Junior is a great storyteller. This may be because the premise is that he's writing in a diary or just because he's good, but I really enjoyed his personable and candid narration. It felt like he was telling the story to me personally. He threw in lots of conversational words like "Ok," "you know?" "right?" "guess what?" and especially "Yep." I also loved his exaggerations. He was always saying stuff like "my grandmother was the most tolerant person in the world," "Penelope was the most beautiful girl I had seen in my whole life," "I was the most vulnerable kid in America." It just sounds like the way a lot of kids that age exaggerate things that adults may not take so seriously, whether they are bragging about themselves or trying to convey the seriousness of a situation.
Junior also deals a lot with race and racism in the book, again, just telling it like it is from his view. After becoming angry in geometry class because he discovered his text book had belonged to his mother and was over 30 years old and thinking over and over how poor life on the rez was, he threw the book in frustration. He had not meant to, but he hit the teacher square in the nose. Junior was suspended for a week, during which time the teacher came to visit him. The teacher expressed that he was upset that Junior had hit him in the face with the book, but moreso, he was worried about Junior. He was actually proud that Junior took a stand and did something to react to the shitty conditions of life on the rez, but was worried that if Junior did not get out of the rez somehow, he would get stuck there like the majority of the rez kids and become hopeless adults who would never leave and just stay in those conditions and lead crappy lives. I'm not trying to say that everyone living on reservations has crappy lives. What I'm saying is that Junior and others like his geometry teacher saw so many years on the rez and the poor quality of life of most who lived there compared to life outside the rez in "the white world" as Junior later refers to it, that both were worried that Junior could become stuck at the rez repeating those patterns, being subject to a life full of death that had been created by white people. Later in the book, Junior says something like, "Indians were sent by white people to reservations to die--we were supposed to disappear." And while Native Americans haven't totally disappeared, white people, through institutionalized racism, have made sure that Native Americans as a group continue to suffer on reservations, not having adequate access to even basic resources at times. Junior's teacher wants him to be able to transcend the rez so that he might know a better quality of life.
That's when Junior decided he wanted to go to a different school. A white school. A relatively wealthy school.
His parents asked if he was sure. Twice. They asked when he wanted to start.
Tomorrow, he said.
And so he did. And of course he ran into racist white people all the time. But after some time, he slowly got to know some, and they got to know him. A few of them were genuinely caring and compassionate with him. Someone encouraged him to try out for basketball. The coach pushed him to do his best, even when Junior thought he couldn't do something. Yes, he became a token, but he also became a success in his own terms. And of course, as a narrator, he is lovable because he is so modest. But I also feel this is realistic too. A lot of people don't necessarily believe in themselves and so when they start to excel at something, it's kind of a shock. They don't really know how it's happening because they did not plan for it, as opposed to a show-off who feels they can control everyone and everything and brags about themselves constantly. Junior is not this type. For Junior, success is surprising.
And even though Junior lived in the relative poverty of the rez and articulated the negative aspects of life and people's behaviors, he was so compassionate and able to understand why things were that way. He understood the racism of the world, and he saw the good and bad of each person he knew.
Junior is also honest and hilarious and doesn't bristle at insults, instead turning them around and giving them back to the person. There was a time when Junior was playing against his best friend Rowdy because Junior was now on the Rearden varsity basketball team, and Rowdy was on the Wellpinit team (the name of the school on the Spokane Reservation that Junior attended until he decided to go to Rearden). Rearden beat Wellpinit in that game. Later, Junior tells of an email conversation he had with Rowdy about it, saying something like, "Sorry we kicked your asses." Rowdy writes back (this is all from memory), "Don't worry, next year we'll beat you and make you cry like the faggot you are." Junior responds, "I may be a faggot, but I'm the faggot who kicked your ass." Being a queer-identified person, I did not find this offensive, but was laughing out loud with Junior. He takes the insult and spins it around, undermines it. Junior is not afraid of insults because he's been a target all his life, and even though he's modest and puts himself down, he's obviously confident in himself enough to turn them around.
I'll end by saying that listening to the story and voice of Sherman Alexie in this book was inspirational to me, aside from enjoying it immensely. I have been slowly working at writing my own memoir for the last few years and it's been slow going. My writing style has been so serious and extremely detailed and prolific, it was exciting when I began to write concise and even humorous sentences about my own life after listening to Alexie. I thought, "I can write like that!" So thank you to Sherman Alexie for this excellent work and for not being afraid to tackle racism, homophobia, poverty, social relationships, pain and suffering, as well as joy and laughter of a life that I otherwise may have never thought about, the life of a kid on the rez in Spokane. You have my gratitude. (less)
Really good stuff! Awesome story and characters and illustrations, but I was thoroughly disappointed to learn that this was the last book in the serie...moreReally good stuff! Awesome story and characters and illustrations, but I was thoroughly disappointed to learn that this was the last book in the series! Absolute cliff-hanger with no satisfaction for an ending. I truly believed there would be a third and perhaps even fourth book.(less)