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Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories

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Sherman Alexie’s stature as a writer of stories, poems, and novels has soared over the course of his twenty-book, twenty-year career. His wide-ranging, acclaimed stories from the last two decades, from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven to his most recent PEN/Faulkner award-winning War Dances, have established him as a star in modern literature.

A bold and irreverent observer of life among Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, the daring, versatile, funny, and outrageous Alexie showcases all his talents in his newest collection, Blasphemy, where he unites fifteen beloved classics with fifteen new stories in one sweeping anthology for devoted fans and first-time readers.

Included here are some of his most esteemed tales, including "What You Pawn I Will Redeem," "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” "The Toughest Indian in the World,” and "War Dances.” Alexie’s new stories are fresh and quintessential—about donkey basketball leagues, lethal wind turbines, the reservation, marriage, and all species of contemporary American warriors.

An indispensable collection of new and classic stories, Blasphemy reminds us, on every thrilling page, why Sherman Alexie is one of our greatest contemporary writers and a true master of the short story.

465 pages, Hardcover

First published September 26, 2012

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About the author

Sherman Alexie

120 books6,026 followers
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 include The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Smoke Signals, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 658 reviews
Profile Image for Brian.
679 reviews323 followers
January 29, 2018
“We fought hard for our happiness, and sometimes we won.”

I have not read Sherman Alexie in many many years, and when I decided to pick up “Blasphemy”, I was not sure what to expect. This short story collection contains 31 stories, 16 of them never before published and 15 from previous works. I will say this about this book, it is absorbing. I was never bored while reading it.
The text opens with a brilliant draw you in right away story called “Cry Cry Cry”, written in a staccato style that simply propels you through it. Mr. Alexie’s sardonic dry humor is fun and evident throughout the book, but especially so in the oddly touching story “War Dances”. The collection can also be unflinching in its starkness, the one page story “Idolatry” being a brutal example in this text.
There are also stories like “The Search Engine” and “What you Pawn I will Redeem” which are longer, intriguing well written stories that I enjoyed very much but that left me missing a little something when I finished them. However, I could not tell you what that “something” is.
“Blasphemy” also contains some misses, the story “Indian County” being a piece whose point I could not begin to fathom.
As a rule, I generally don’t like short stories as a genre, but Sherman Alexie never disappoints. His wonderful gift for characterization can make the shortest piece feel a depth that many examples in this genre just do not achieve for me. Sherman Alexie is an important literary voice, and if you do not know him, or know and appreciate him, “Blasphemy” is the book to read.
Profile Image for Miah D .
98 reviews29 followers
November 26, 2012
Sherman Alexie is one of the most well-regarded voices in 21st century Native American literature. And, he's one of my favorite authors. So, it pains me greatly to rate Blasphemy with three out of five stars, when I know him to be a five-star author.

Blasphemy explores the continued modern-day alienation of Native Americans and his community's struggles with alcoholism, acceptance of homosexuality, and the death of strong Native American men. Darkly comic, Blasphemy makes the reader smile at times and horrible uncomfortable at others. The first few stories are engaging and Alexie immediately pulls the reader in with a combination of his wry sense of humor and a genuine sadness--we feel compassion for the characters. The writing is good. Scratch that--the writing is authentically awesome.

However, the writing stays in the same place for the duration of the collection. After a while, the stories blend together because they all deal with the same theme--different character names, ages and genders, but same struggles. It's like a literary version of Run Lola Run.

I really want Alexie to step out of the box he's clearly comfortable in --the box of the Native American on the reservation who struggles with alcohol, identity, sexuality and gender expectancies. As an African-American woman with a different story woven in to the American tapestry of experience, I look forward to reading about communities that experience challenges different from mine. I fear that Alexie has pigeon-holed his community by overempahsizing the same challenges. We get it. What else to Native Americans struggle with? Or, can Alexie tell a story that is not so personally linked to his own journey? Can he expand as an author? Blasphemy leads me to believe that he cannot.

The book is good, but flat. By the time I got to the end, the stories were all the same, with a few standouts.

If you're a fan, it's worth a check out from the library. I would not read the book cover-to-cover, however. Pick 8-10 stories and you have the whole collection.
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
750 reviews201 followers
October 2, 2016
Blasphemy is a collection of short stories by Sherman Alexie, which I didn't know until I started reading the book. Yes, go me for not reading the blurb and going wild on my library's online reservations feature!

I really like short stories but - and I mentioned this in other reviews before - not every author can write them, and only few authors can really write them well.
Short stories are a different beast from novellas or novels.

Alexie's stories are entertaining and informative, and they certainly project that unique voice of his that seems to echo in the other two books I read (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Flight). The problem I had, if you want to call it a "problem", is that, as a fan of the short story format, I expected more.
More punch. More experimentation. Just more.
Profile Image for Daniel Cohen.
Author 9 books348 followers
March 4, 2013

What a ride. I'm still rather new to short story anthologies (I tend to prefer a good novel) and this one hit me hard. I especially loved the final story, 'What you pawn I will redeem.' My chest still aches after finishing it just a few minutes ago. I usually give myself a little bit of time to write a review, but I was so impressed by "Blasphemy" I knew I had to go and write something right away and hopefully persuade someone to give the book a try.

Alexie writes like no one else I've come across. Even though the stories in the book vary in perspective, theme, and length, the voice behind them is so distinct. I feel like I'll be able to spot an Alexie story from a mile away in the future.

The stories in this anthology are mostly on Indian themes, but he makes the pain, loneliness, and humor so relatable that any person, any creed, any race will take something powerful away from these stories. Alexie gets it. As sad as some of these stories are, I feel like Alexie truly believes in our beautiful world and I can't wait to see what else he has to say on the subject.
Profile Image for Connie Kuntz.
491 reviews27 followers
October 28, 2012
Sherman Alexie writes about evil and shame so beautifully, I am now convinced that evil and shame are good things.

He also writes about wisdom, sex, and the repercussions that come with both. Here is an example:

"Every woman can have all the men she wants if she lowers her standards a bit."

Every short story in this collection is excellent, but if you want to know which ones are my favorites they are:

Green World. Incredible imagery. A short story that takes place in the future. Windmill farms, bird slaughter, emotions, futile killing.

Breakfast. A son cracks open an egg and his father's small corpse drops into the mixing bowl. Just add salt. Tons. Several chapters later is another incredible short story entitled "Salt." That one delves into dementia.

Do You Know Where I Am? The timeline of a marriage. Noticing a brilliant woman. The first lie. Burying parents. Raising Children. Extramarital affair. The exuberance of hateful thoughts. Love. I was reading this one in public and had to position my head and hair so that no one could see my tears.

Indian Education. Fifth grade. A young boy discovers basketball. "...All those possibilities and angles. It was mathematics, geometry. It was beautiful." Twelfth grade. Valedictorian. "I try to remain stoic for the photographers as I look toward the future....They (meaning former classmates who barely graduated) smile for the photographer as they look back toward tradition."

The Vow. A young buck gets a warning from a larger buck!:)

Breaking and Entering. A husband/father defends his home and family when a teenager breaks into his house. "I could have made the decision to avoid conflict and step aside. But I didn't." He swings a bat at the young intruder and kills him. Weeks later, after much hullabaloo, his wife asks him, "With that kid, did you lose your temper?" and reminds him about that time he broke his hand when he punched the wall. A crisis reveals disgusting little truths.

You know...all the stories are brilliant. They are each my favorite. Trying to list them is silly on my part.

Cry, Cry, Cry will make you Change, Change, Change

Profile Image for George.
802 reviews83 followers
August 18, 2016

“Does a holy song lose its power if its singer is untalented?”—War Dances (p.47)

I’m not a big fan of melancholy. I’m not a big fan of slice-of-life. I’m not a big fan of despair, either. Yet I am a huge fan of Sherman Alexie; although his stories are rife with all of the above. They’re also packed with irony, irreverence, warmth, humor, human-interest, a smidgen of hope, and some of the best damn metaphors ever, anywhere.

The 24 stories (12 old, 12 new), in his collection: Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories sparkle, drip, reek, glow, engage, and compel.

For my money, it’s a toss-up between Alexie and Boyle for who’s the best living short story writer/teller. I can’t decide; but they’re far and away the best. Like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, they’re just going to have to have a fistfight in heaven to decide.

Recommendation: Short story lovers, not too squeamish to dabble in some slice-of-life darkness, will really enjoy these stories.

“If there really is a Heaven then I firmly believe it’s a Kmart cafeteria.”—War Dances (p. 62)

“She pushed me aside, adjusted her dreams, pulled on her braids for a jumpstart, and walked out the door.”—The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor (p. 127)

Barnes & Noble NOOKbook edition, 331 pages
Profile Image for Helen Mallon.
Author 8 books6 followers
October 23, 2012
My Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Excerpt

QUESTION: Why does America love Sherman Alexie, author of Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories?

ANSWER: Well, he's a sometime standup comedian - who also happens to be a prolific, award-winning poet, novelist, young-adult writer, and filmmaker. Of course, successful isn't the same as lovable. A true comedian, Alexie lampoons all species of Americans in his writing, but what makes him popular is his inclusive embrace.

If Charles Dickens had been born to the Spokane Tribe in 1966, grown up on a reservation in Wellpinit, Wash., suffered from hydrocephaly in infancy, but recovered to read The Grapes of Wrath by the age of 5 (reportedly), and fallen in love with basketball, he might have grown up to be Sherman Alexie.


A: Pretty much everybody. In Blasphemy, America is often Indian and poor and down-and-out; Indian and savvy and hopelessly romantic...
Profile Image for Jordan.
355 reviews2 followers
June 20, 2014
This book hit me from all sides, hard.

Sherman Alexie's latest (?) collection of short stories combines his older works (which I hadn't read before) with new works and ideas (again, nope), and now I'm kicking myself for not having explored Alexie's work before; believe me, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been bumped waaaaaay up in my queue.

While some of the basketball-centric stories started to lose me, the overwhelming majority of this collection made me think, feel, and shiver. Especially the last four or so. Alexie completely evokes the modern Native American experience (or at least my limited, white, dreadfully hegemonic understanding of it), and then pulls the rug out on that whole idea with stories like "The Search Engine." He explores issues of race, and the unique guises afforded to lighter Indians: passing, the guilt and anxiety of passing, seeking roots, not seeking roots, finding roots you don't like... it's all here, and it's tear-jerking.

Yes, I admit to being one of the many many readers who was drawn to Alexie because of this hoopla, but now I can appreciate Alexie for the powerful literary voice that he is, as well as the fervent defender of independent business that he's become.

Well done, sir.

Buy this title from Powell's Books, because Sherman Alexie would want you to.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,647 reviews26 followers
December 26, 2013
Sherman Alexie writes some short stories so short, they are almost not stories, and some so long they are almost novellas. One very short one became a movie (Smoke Signals). He makes fun a lot of white folks romanticization of Indians and I have seen a lot of what he describes myself. I should add here that it is white folks who decided to called indigenous people "Native Americans". There are even universities that are so politically correct that they require the use of the term Native Americans, and the terms Indian and American Indian are not allowed. One of these universities is in Minnesota which is puzzling as there are lots of Indian folks there who more than likely refer to themselves as Indians and their tribal name. The lives of American Indians many times are sad. Alexi describes Indians living on the streets of Seattle, many of whom are from Alaska. Seattle is the closest large city in the lower 48, and some come down and end up on the streets. Boston in the east is a similar magnet for many Canadian Micmac who come down from Nova Scotia, and sadly end up on the streets because of alcoholism. My favorite story was the longest "The Search Engine" about a young Spokane Indian woman who is the first in her family to go to college (university) and wants to be a poet. These stories are often sad, sometimes depressing, and at times even infuriating. As readers, we accept the writer's representation of his or her world. Most white Americans have little interaction with American Indians, and we depend on writers like Alexi to tell it what their lives are like.
Profile Image for Anne-Marie Hodge.
102 reviews9 followers
September 28, 2012
This is possibly one of the best short story collections that I've read. Often with short stories, I'm left feeling like I still have only an abstract view of the characters. Alexie does a fantastic job of creating moving, deep, thought-provoking situations and characters. The stories in this book center around the lives of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, and the diversity of characters still dealing with common themes is extremely interesting and leaves you wanting more. I especially liked his portrayal of the couples in this book, many of them are supportive and loving but still realistic, and he does a good job of exploring the many different ways two people can become intertwined.

I have to admit I'm often skeptical when a successful novelist puts out a volume of short stories, not sure how well they handle both forms of literature and fearing that it's a collection of leavings that their editor swept up for a guaranteed best seller based on the author's name alone. This is NOT one of those books, and I actually think I enjoyed Alexie's stories more than his full length books.
Profile Image for David.
590 reviews124 followers
November 13, 2012
I have enjoyed Alexie's writing over the years. It is nice to have this anthology and to revisit the 15 republished stories that comprise his best work in this style. (I'm partial to his poems and shorter novels, particularly "Flight" and "Dangerous Anatomy", but the man can write a story!) Some of the 16 new works are also strong and atmospheric but I'm unlikely to revisit more than 3 or 4 of those.

Ultimately I think that gathering these particular stories together was a disservice to the author. So many of them recycle the same themes or iconic characters - basketball, the Indian misfit leaving the rez, basketball, the brown-skinned lesbian (did I mention basketball?) - that monotony ensues. The shorter collections from which many of these stories originated were paradoxically broader and deeper than this much bigger tome. In this case the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts.
Profile Image for Petter Nordal.
191 reviews10 followers
December 2, 2012
If you love Sherman Alexie, like i do, all you need to know is that he is coming out with a new collection!

If you don't love Sherman Alexie, get this book!

Some of the stories are found in other collections, but they are worth reading again. The new ones are full of the amazing voice, cadence, imagery, empathy, vision, hope, undertsanding and humor that make a weekend on the sofa with Sherman Alexie better than a weekend at your favorite vacation destination with your best friends!

(It is true that some of the stories show some sides of life that are maybe a little too true and a little too graphic for middle school readers.)

I highly recommend it to anyone else!
Profile Image for Anthony.
218 reviews1 follower
August 28, 2017
I'm sure he's a great writer, but to be honest I only read the first story in this one. It crossed the threshold with the F word way too many times. On top of that I don't really want to read depressing and sadistic stories about prison rape, hitting women, and murdering people all because you live on the Rez and life is hard on the Rez. I mean I do realize that there was some redemption even within that first story, but I just had to wade through so much disgusting garbage to get to it. It doesn't seem worth it, when the more often I read something like that I will become desensitized to just how horrible those actions are.
Profile Image for Sandy.
21 reviews2 followers
August 22, 2016
A stranger in his homeland

Alexie's stories are heartbreaking homages to literature in general and to poetry specifically. He illustrates how difficult it is to be an exile in one's own homeland and how family and tribal ties can both sustain and break one's heart. Each one of these short stories is a precious gem that lingers in the reservation of my mind.
Profile Image for Jennifer Spiegel.
Author 9 books83 followers
June 24, 2018
I don't even know how to write about Alexie. The craziest part is that within six months, I've read maybe four of his books and seen SMOKE SIGNALS--and his #metoo involvement came into light during my reading. I guess, very briefly, I can say that it's been my impression--throughout my limited collegiate stuff--that many writers were problematic on one end of the spectrum, and vile on the other. I would say this penetrates into all fields (no lewd pun intended!), but I only know this field. There's this weird combo needed for artistic achievement: ego, confidence, craziness,outrageousness . . . This might be some kind of myth I'm buying into, but I'm not sure . . .

So 5 stars.

This collection is pretty uneven. There is some great writing--like BRILLIANT writing--and there's mediocre writing, sometimes in the same story. Consider these great lines:

"The two funniest tribes I've ever been around are Indians and Jews, so I guess that says something about the inherent humor of genocide."


"He was thin and muscular like a slice of beef jerky, and had read a couple thousand books in his life.He was one of those rare men who did not monologue his way through life."

(Don't you know a guy who monologues his way through life?)

It would be hard to pick out my favorite stories, though I might mention "Cry Cry Cry," "War Dances," "Assimilation,"and "Basic Training." The book, interestingly to me, besides dealing with well-known themes surrounding identity politics, is marriage- and cancer-haunted.
Profile Image for Beth Lind.
1,161 reviews39 followers
August 6, 2017
Honest, painfully so at times. I love a book that makes me squirm sometimes. Alexis books have all been really good and this collection of short stories didn't disappoint.
Profile Image for Julia.
2,030 reviews59 followers
December 22, 2012
Thirty-one new and selected short stories by one of my favorite writers. Do I hear B.D. Wong when I reread “Breaking and Entering” because he read the story on “Selected Shorts?” Yes, of course. And I hear Keir Dullea’s voice as I reread “What You Pawn, I Will Redeem,” from the same radio show. Some I know —or think I know-- I’ve read before like “The Toughest Indian in the World,” “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” “War Dances.”

I don’t believe I’ve read “The Search Engine” before. It’s about Corliss who is the first Spokane Indian she has ever heard of studying poetry at Washington State, when she finds a chapbook of poetry in the stacks there written in 1972 by a Spokane Indian she’s never heard of. “What Ever Happened to Frank Snake Church” is about a middle aged Indian who makes/ gives himself a second chance at college, college basketball and life. These short stories are gems.

I’m very glad that I have Sherman Alexie’s books and characters in my life. If you haven't read all of his novels, short stories, poems, go get them, download them -- now! Please.
Profile Image for Laura.
3,684 reviews95 followers
September 20, 2012
This collection of stories is not all new, which dropped the rating (not because they're not good stories, but because I'd already read them and really would have loved more new stuff).

What Alexie means by "Blasphemy" is, I think, that he's unafraid to talk about the things that most Indians don't want to talk about: the alcoholism, the HUD homes, the poverty of the rez, etc.. Very few of the stories fail to touch on one, if not all, of those themes, hammering home again and again how the Indian's lives are not on par with white lives, let alone those of other immigrant groups. The people here before any of the rest of us have been reduced to a population that is largely uneducated, addicted to alcohol and drugs, and absent a hopeful future.

It's difficult to choose a favorite from among this collection, but "Whatever Happened to Frank Snake Church" and "Basic Training" brought tears to my eyes.

ARC provided by publisher.
Profile Image for Gina.
1,743 reviews55 followers
October 2, 2017
Sherman Alexie is one of those authors that I never truly know how to review. And that's a good thing. This collection of both new and previously published short stories (all new to me) covers a range of what it means to be a "modern day Indian" (his words) navigating between reservations and the outside world. His writing touches on a range of emotion, intellectual review, a writing as a craft that makes it hard to discuss, especially critically. For example, there were stories I connected with emotionally that I didn't think were as well written. There were beautifully, well crafted stories that I didn't connect to at all. In other words, I even liked the stories I didn't like, just for different reasons. It takes some true skill to do that in one short story much less consistently throughout a large collection. Highly recommend, especially for a book club.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews658 followers
December 10, 2016
If I may borrow a metaphor from my favourite author, this is the sort of short story collection that should be served with a whisk brush, so you can dust yourself off after you pick yourself up off the floor. Blasphemy was my first introduction to Sherman Alexie, and it certainly won't be the last.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Ambre Lee.
97 reviews8 followers
July 12, 2012
Beginning with "Cry Cry Cry"-it's like Alexie takes a cold steel blade to your gut and gives it a subtle turn...the story is so good it leaves you breathless. Meth is a huge problem in certain LA communities and it's invigorating to read something that feels so poignant-instead of the tiresome Breaking Bad show that doesn't seem to go away.
Profile Image for Kathy.
326 reviews30 followers
September 23, 2012
A tender, rough, brilliant collection of stories. No one writes quite like Sherman Alexie. He walks that line between breaking your heart into pieces and making you want to howl or laugh or rush out into the rain just because, declaring your imperfections and humanity. Wow.
(this was a Goodreads First Reads win, and I read an uncorrected proof).
Profile Image for Emily.
646 reviews36 followers
October 16, 2014
Almost every story was amazing. I love the way Alexie thinks. I love his sarcasm. I like the way he makes me sad. The first book of his I read made me angry in my impotence. But we've grown together and now I recommend him to everybody. I guess I can return this book to my mother now :-)
Profile Image for cat.
1,009 reviews27 followers
July 18, 2017
How is it possible that I have never read Sherman Alexie before? That is no longer true and I am so looking forward to making my way through his entire body of work. Loved these stories and his voice.
Profile Image for Margaret Murray.
Author 5 books4 followers
May 16, 2016
Blasphemy is a brilliant book of stories exposing the allure and cheap hypocrisy of our contemporary American culture. It’s no accident this book was written by a Native American writer.

Warning: National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie’s newest collection of short stories contains blasphemy. Each of these thirty-one stories (sixteen brand new) may include scenes, characters or language that will make you cringe. You might find something in each that is shocking, sacrilegious, irreverent, profane, or tainted. You may see these stories as an affront, making you feel small and downright disgusted with your unavoidably slick, techno-babbling American life. Like the homeless you pass on the street, you probably don’t want to be close to them for long.

Varying from two pages in “Fame” to 58 pages in “Search Engine”, this disparity in length is sort of shocking too, an underhanded insult to the normal, professional (acceptable) book look. But that’s a minor flaw compared to the virulent content. For example, in “Fame”, a video goes viral and is seen by three million people. The video shows a lion in the zoo trying to eat a small girl through observation glass. The girl’s mother is laughing hysterically as she takes the video and so is the crowd at the zoo as well as three million people online.

The unnamed narrator, however, isn’t laughing. He is disgusted as he watches the mother
take the video, feeling the indecency the lion feels, this King of the Beasts trapped behind observation glass, reduced to few-seconds-long media. The narrator has come to the zoo to impress his new girlfriend who works part-time (aptly at the primate section) making and selling those crude, throwaway balloon animals no one with any taste would ever buy. These slippery cartoon balloon animals, bad jokes even as toys, are signposts of corruption everywhere, like the video, the lion, and the mother.

I wonder what the little girl is feeling while her mother is laughing?

So what happens to our narrator and his girlfriend? It’s only their third date and he’s eager to have his way with her — but I won’t be a spoiler and reveal what happens. Let’s just say he sees the lion in himself. “I wasn’t angry. I was lonely. I was bored. And I half-remembered a time when I had been feared.”

Of course I felt close to the narrator and the lion. Like many of the other characters in Blasphemy, they could have been my relatives, though not necessarily ones I’d want to visit. And I'm not Native American.

There’s way too much ugly truth in these stories, too much humanity that’s been stamped on, disregarded, contaminated, violated by everyone including, and especially, by the characters themselves.

The painful irony, the heart of the blasphemy, lies in a pathetic hope that remains despite all. As the narrator says at the end of “Fame”, “If somebody had filmed me and posted it online then I would have become that guy with the teeth. I would have become a star.”

Isn't that what we all want—to be a star? You have to read it.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,837 reviews351 followers
March 2, 2018
Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories by Sherman Alexie (2012)

I've read several of Alexie's earlier story collections as well as his novels Flight, Reservation Blues and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Alexie is an incredibly talented writer shining a light onto a part of America's culture that is very rarely seen in modern literature.

That said, his work is never easy to take filled with wasted potential, sadness and a pervasive sense of everything that an entire culture has lost thanks to Western expansion and modernization. It is a bleak, cold world. It is bleaker and colder if you are an Indian in an Alexie story.

While Alexie provides some moments of whimsy and wonder, his stories are generally heavy. Clocking in at 480 pages Blasphemy is even heavier than earlier collection or novels. It is also not at all indicative of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian so if you're expecting that kind of story here just walk away now.

The collection is comprised of new and older stories so it's a nice introduction to Alexie except that most of my favorite stories ("Somebody Kept Saying Powwow", "Distances", "Saint Junior", "A Good Story") are not found in this collection though other familiar ones including "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and "The Toughest Indian in the World" do appear.

My favorite of Alexie's collections is either The Business of Fancydancing or The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. They were shorter, more balanced collections that tempered the inherent sadness of many stories with lighter stories of hope and sometimes even redemption. Even the characters who didn't get that happy ending had a certain dignity--something the felt lacking to me in this collection.

You can find this review and more on my blog Miss Print
Profile Image for James.
39 reviews4 followers
April 12, 2013
Have read most of the stories, have been savoring them, but "Search Engine" prompted this short review and recommendation. Corliss is another wonderfully memorable character. The last one who struck me so was Ava in "Swamplandia". Although they are very different in a lot of ways, they are both strong young women, plotting their own paths in life--kind of going against the stream, or expectations others have of them. They remind me of my strong daughter, and their relationships with their mothers brings to mind not only my daughter's relationship with her mother, BUT all mother-daughter (and mother-son for that matter) relationships.
Mr. Alexie's stories continue to give me, as an old white guy, a tiny peak into lives and histories of "non-old white guys" (Corliss's conversation with the "sort of a Spokane Indian" [my words] in the bookstore not only speaks to what it means to be an "Indian" in America, but what it means to be a "human" in America (as she learns from the homeless man she befriends.) The story of course becomes more universal the more it sifts around in my head.
All of the stories are great, some very short, some longer, but many continue to resonate with me as I continue to "savor" his stories.
Profile Image for Bondama.
318 reviews
August 17, 2013
I have dearly loved virtually everything Sherman Alexie has written. To the best of my knowledge, he is part Spokane, and part Couer d'Alene Native American. (Although Alexie has stated, both in print and in talks - He prefers the term "Indian."

He can be hilariously funny - Indians have a broad, bawdy sense of humour, as a rule. But his most moving stories and novels have a deep sense of honor and grave love of the land and his own culture. It's to his credit that he can describe the "rez" (reservation) where most Indians are born, regardless of where they wander since then. When well-meaning Anglos adopted Indian children (a practice that is currently in the news) - it's now against federal law. The Indians on the rez, the heart of the tribe, call them the "lost birds"

But I treasure this book -- yes, there are some clunkers.... but so few, and those few always contain something wonderful to find...If you are not inclined to read the book, try and find the movie from several years ago, "Smoke Signals." - It's taken from "Reservation Blues" - the book for which Alexie won the National Book Award. It's a very funny movie, but, like Alexie's writing, always contains some elements of Indian philosophy.
Profile Image for Danielle Franco-Malone.
141 reviews19 followers
September 3, 2013
I made it about 75 pages through and then got pretty tired of it. As much as I love Sherman Alexie, I am somewhat tired of the semi-autobiographical short stories, many involving the same little quirks, like having had water on the brain as a baby, living outside the Spokane reservation, and all relying on the same themes about modern day tribal dysfunction/isolation and the search for identity/community, etc. It just starts to feel so damn formulaic! And unlike a novel, the short story format makes the repetition even more unbearable. If you enjoy short stories, this would be a great read. And if you haven't already read Sherman Alexie, you may not find the repetition as bothersome (though if you haven't read him, I'd strongly recommend starting with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian). However, if you're not a die hard Alexie fan, I'd give this one a pass.
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