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Smoke Signals: A Screenplay

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,345 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Set in Arizona, Smoke Signals is the story of two Native American boys on a journey. Victor is the stoic, handsome son of an alcoholic father who has abandoned his family. Thomas is a gregarious, goofy young man who lost both his parents in a fire at a very young age. Through storytelling, Thomas makes every effort to connect with the people around him: Victor, in contrast ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 8th 1998 by Miramax Books (first published 1993)
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Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a great example of a revisionist western from the American Indian perspective. In addition to focusing on reservation life, the characters in the story are handling a difficult family drama in which a son must go on a journey to see to his father's burial. This father, a severe alcoholic, abandoned the family in an attempt to escape his guilt from a terrible accident.

It is, surprisingly, very funny. The main character is the lone wolf type, but he is forced to go on the journey with his
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book Smoke Signals by Sherman Alexie was very interesting. I thought the book was good my favorite part was wen Thomas came out of the store in his fribread power shirt. The main characters are Thomas and the setting they are on their way to find victors dad in the desert.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first saw the movie in a college english class, this sent me to look for the book. I really enjoyed the characters Victor and Thomas, especially Thomas. He's story telling was the best, you got irrated with Thomas and loved him for the simple nature that he was.

I loved the book/screenplay!!!! I believe this is bases on the book the Long Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-books
I actually have not read this screenplay but if you have not seen the movie, rent it. It truly is an excellent movie and the dialogue is superb.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I remember reading this book in my sophomore year of high school. When I read this book we also had to watch the film and compare/contrast the plot, character, and general tone of the book. I actually enjoyed this activity so much. I remember enjoying the overall tone of the book. I loved the journey that Thomas and Victor set out on. I would have to say I love the book more. I imagined the characters and gave more emotion/ meaning. However, the actors were great and for their budget, they did p ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great script with lots of detail. I always liked the unique storytelling style of this movie. Probably the best and most interesting part of this book is Sherman Alexies notes at the end of the script detailing why scenes were cut, what scenes didn't work and why, how the script changed to the final product you see on film etc. Highly fascinating to read that process!
Feb 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
This man, Sherman Alexie, sexually abuses women serially and I will never support his work.

Read the comments section:
Joe Davis
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I thought that the movie did a better job at getting the movie and message across. You start to feel for all the character because of the vivid description of scenes. The characters had amazing story arcs and you can see how they change slowly.
Karen Gabriel
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic movie. Very thought provoking.
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Smoke Signals can be loved because it is Indian written, produced, directed, and acted. Beyond this is a film that embraces the humour in the tragedy of a man's reservation life and how it affected his family and friends. It also contains scenes with the reservation's traffic/weatherman who is ensconced atop a motor home at a rural intersection and can report live via the reservation radio station. In addition, there are characters, story-tellers who are of a mystical bent, just to thicken the s ...more
Gregory Fournier
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Smoke Signals is the screenplay for the wonderful independent film, loosely based on characters found in Sherman Alexie's collection of short stories, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven."

It delves into some of the realities of single parenthood, alcohol abuse, family dysfunction, and child abandonment issues, but somehow, it manages to be an entertaining, optimistic comedy with serious undertones.

Smoke Signals ends with a moving narration of "When do we forgive our fathers? In our t
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a movie adaptation of one of Sherman Alexie's short stories. When Victor's father dies, he must leave the reservation to go to Phoenix, Arizona to collect his remains. Victor has no way of getting there until Thomas (a young Indian storyteller that is the equivalent of an Indian Geek) offers to pay the way. The catch is that Victor must take Thomas with him. The two men have a history dating back to infancy, when Victor's father had saved Thomas from the house fire that had killed his pa ...more
There are notes from Alexie about the changes they made while filming. I was glad to learn that everyone involved with the movie was ashamed of the wig Adam Beach wears at the end, and I hope he got some kind of revenge on the guilty parties.
May 05, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a screenplay, so it was interesting to read from that perspective. I love Sherman Alexie's writing but I feel like a lot of the beauty gets lost in the stage directions. This is basically a film made up of the short stories included in "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" so I would recommend just reading the short stories.
The book does include a description of which scenes were changed in the movie and why. So I imagine if you were really into film makeing, or just a fan of b
Melinda Worfolk
Really wonderful play--the movie of the same name is also fantastic and well worth watching. Great teaching material; my students in the class (Advanced English upgrading, about Grade 11 English for adults), loved it and found it utterly hilarious and touching. At the time most of my students self-identified as First Nations/Aboriginal (Native Canadian), and many said they could relate to it even though it was American. There were many similarities between the reserves they'd grown up on and the ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
The Smoke Signals Screenplay wasnt the best book I had ever read. I didnt really like it. The plot was ok though. It was a little sad. something I did like about the fact that it was a screenplay, was that it was easy to picture what was happening. What I had in my mind was almost exactly like the movie. I just didnt understand why it was called smoke signals.
I can't wait to watch the movie! The story is fascinating.

The screenplay is good, but it's meant to be filmed. However, one of the coolest things about this publishing is finding out how the story evolved in the process of actually filming it. This would be particularly useful for someone who wants to learn more about writing/producing/etc screenplays.

Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theater-tv
Finally found this at the library! Really enjoyed reading Alexie's original screenplay and then reading his comments as to why certain scenes were cut or changed in the final movie. Very insightful. This is one of my favorite films, love the story, the acting, the filmography. It was fabulous to relive it through a new medium.
Kimberly Carrera
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book a lot.It was very entertaining. My favorite characters were Thomas and Victor. It was weird and confusing at a couple moments. It kept changing the time period and got hard to keep track of. Even though it was confusing I liked the way it ended.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed the movie and thoroughly enjoyed reading the screenplay. I've seen the film a dozen times and having read the screenplay only helped me get even deeper into the story. Highly recommend it.
Elizabeth Long
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really did like the story line and the fact that this story was written by, co-produced, and acted out all by Native American Indians. I am not a fan of reading screen plays at all, but did find the book very emotional and entertaining
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved the humor, heart, and sadness in this story. The screenplay lacks the visuals of the movie, but offers an opportunity to focus on the nuance of dialogue that is shared here. Beautifully rendered to capture the characters and their insecurities and fears and triumphs.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: research
I bought this book simply to cite in my paper, but I found scene notes by Sherman Alexie helpful to form an idea about the movie. I now got to see his intentions behind the scenes. Also I got a feeling that he didn't get along with the director, Chris Eyre.
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those who like reading screenplays
Shelves: sherman-alexie
I think that it is really something that Sherman Alexie can re-work his characters and stories to fit the needs of a new project.
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This story/film was taken from Alexie's book "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfighting in Heaven". If you haven't seen the movie, RUN TO THE VIDEO STORE, RENT IT, and WATCH IT! EXCELLENT!!!!
Mar 24, 2008 rated it liked it
This screenplay is pretty funny, but not my favorite Native American piece I have read.
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
See the movie! Great story.
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
ok, I didn't read it but the movie was great!
Nov 13, 2008 marked it as to-read
I really liked this movie. I should read this.
Jun 27, 2009 marked it as to-read
the movie was awesome. memorable
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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

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