William Thomas's Reviews > War Dances

War Dances by Sherman Alexie
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's review
Aug 21, 11

liked it
Read in August, 2011

I don't suffer from white guilt. So I'm not one to blow smoke up an author's ass for the simple fact that they are black or Asian or American Indian. I won't go easy on a writer for the simple fact of their ethnicity. But I will praise them when they deserve it and damn it all if Sherman Alexie doesn't deserve all of my praise.

I know that sounds strange with the three star rating. The book wasn't perfect by any means. What it was was honest. Completely unabashed honesty. Not stories from a writer content to wallow in his own self-pity, not one to mentally masturbate all over the pages, but one that analyzes all of his own bullshit from the periphery. A step back out of the situation and commenting on the events of his own and other peoples' lives with humor and wit and honesty that adds up sometimes to an awkward empathy and other times to mocking absurdity.

But as with any collection of stories and poems, there are winners and losers. The biggest loser in this collection is The Senator's Son, which is a complete waste of time and utterly unnecessary. The biggest winners are the most heartbreaking moments when Alexie talks about his alcoholic father and his love for Patsy Cline.

On the whole the book reminded me of both Paul Auster and Raymond Carver, an honest voice touched with sadness and self deprecation and a lilting voice that mesmerizes.
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