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The Business of Fancydancing

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  1,787 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
One of the most vital of the younger writers...Watch this guy. He's making myth. -- Joy Harjo. The high spirit of Crazy alive in this book and dances powerfully. -- American Book Review. Tremendous pain and anger, but there is also love, humor and plenty of irony... recommended for literature collections in all types of libraries. -- Library Journal.
Hardcover, 84 pages
Published January 1st 1992 by Hanging Loose Press (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30)
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Slice of life poetry and flash fiction; this early work by Alexie is a strong beginning for his career. While the poetry was moving and well-done, he truly shines in the short narratives.
Jun 04, 2008 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian last summer, I decided to work my way through Alexie's oeuvre since I had already also read and enjoyed Reservation Blues. Two short story collections and one novel later, I was done. Not in that my task was completed but in that I couldn't take anymore. Then The Business of Fancydancing came into my possession after waiting about six months for it. Unwilling to let the book go after waiting so long for it, I decided to see what the f ...more
Mar 12, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Builds-The-Fire left me crying in a Starbucks.
Apr 24, 2008 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, poetry
His first book, the most raw, the least structurally organized, and in some ways the most powerful. It's almost like, lacking the formal tools, he writes with the only thing he knows—unfiltered emotion. Mostly poems in this book. Just five stories, most very short; you can see that he is just starting to move from poems to prose narratives.
Tom McDade
Nov 04, 2014 Tom McDade rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-fiction, poetry
One of the pieces I liked a lot:

Eugene Boyd Don't Drink Here Anymore

The Stranger walks into the bar, orders a beer, and asks me where
the hell Eugene Boyd is, and I tell him, he got shot last year in the
parking lot of the Gold Coin, man, he's dead. The Stranger looks
me in the eyes, looks the whole bar straight in the eyes, and drinks
his beer in one drink. Who the hell did it, the Stranger asks me,
and I tell him that everyone knows but the police ain't going to do
anything about it because when o
Ryan Dunk
Feb 20, 2013 Ryan Dunk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-lit, poetry
I wonder if it's my inexperience with verse or my understanding and appreciation for Alexie's later work that have the stronger effect on my perception of this collection. Overall, I felt like the poems were overwrought and even perhaps a bit trite. Alexie usually does a great job of balancing the serious themes of his work with moments of humor. This has the effect, at least to me, of making his more serious moments that much more powerful, and giving a more realistic portrayal of contemporary ...more
Mary Helene
Jul 04, 2010 Mary Helene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Painful - but insightful. I've read his later books (most recently The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, which is marvelously accessible to all kinds of readers,) and his humor and hope sustain one through the pain. This is his first book, and the pain is more raw, but the humor is still there. I am wondering if I might have the courage to look at despair as he does.
p.s. I write my review before reading other reviews - and then I go on to avidly read what others think. If you do that
Jan 20, 2014 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars!
The Business of Fancydancing" is another collection of some great short stories and mostly poetry by a brilliant writer.Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite authors but this book did not move me the way all of his other works did.

Typically, I find myself re-reading pages of his novels because his descriptions remind me of a sucker punch-hard hitting and void of warning; not this time.

Apr 21, 2017 Dorie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantabulous
The Business Of Fancy Dancing: Stories and Poems
By Sherman Alexie
Hanging Loose Press

Published in 1992, selling over 10,000 copies, this is a collection of poems, many which have previously been published. Sherman Alexies writing is always Native American based, his undeniable talent for language, usage of words always make his work hard to put down. His sense of humor is excellent, I find myself laughing or chuckling out loud frequently and makes his work even more engaging. It brings his fa
Apr 11, 2016 Graili rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, canadian-lit
Sherman Alexie’s first book of poems, The Business of Fancydancing, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 1992. The book is divided into three sections, with the poems in each section based on one central theme. The themes are distance, evolution and development, and crazy horse dreams (dreams that are impossible, but still full of hope). As well, the poems feature recurring characters and themes, such as alcoholism, poverty, cultural appropriation, and death (his father's in particular).
The r
Ben Klayer
Oct 21, 2014 Ben Klayer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A friend recommended that I start reading Sherman Alexie in chronological order. Since "Fancydancing" is the first book he published, I picked it up and began reading.

I cannot wait to grab more of his works.

Quite simply, I am impressed with Alexie's profound imagery. He isn't very abstract or over-the-top. Instead, he focuses on making metaphors out of everyday things, like sandwhiches and basketball games.

Furthermore, Alexie doesn't fluff his poems. Honestly, they are pretty bare-bones, and mos
Nov 01, 2016 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an odd mix of poetry and short stories - the first published book of a writer who has since achieved much respect and success. Three sections: Distances, Evolution, and Crazy Horse Dreams. The primary topic is life on an Indian reservation. Though the collection deals with family relationships quite heavily. Introduction by Alex Kuo.

"Sudden Death" - poem about his father
"November 22, 1983" - poem about his parents on the day JFK was killed
"Lottery" - a nine-line run-on sentence
Digi Munoz
Feb 05, 2017 Digi Munoz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best random surprises that I have ever stumbled upon at the second hand book store.

It is one of the joys of reading, that for 400 yen, a book can engage you for 5 days, as you read, and then reread his prose and poetry.

About the work. Very clear, insightful, offering a glimpse into Native Americans lives, and perhaps also the stereotypes about how they live. But, these stories and poems could be about any race, often about the town drunk, or someone who is returning from ti
(3.5 stars)

The first time I read Sherman Alexie was in my freshman year of college, nearly eight years ago. I took a class that focused entirely on reading the works of women and persons of color, and one of the first books we read was The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. I loved that book so much I read it twice, and I hardly ever read anything twice. I received this collection of Alexie's poems and short stories -- his first book -- from my best friend a long time ago and only now go
Jan 29, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, poetry
This collection of poetry and short stories has the power to knock the wind out of you from moment to moment, sometimes with a completely exhaled breath of despair, and at other times with a gasp of laughter - sometimes one right after the other. The poems Evolution and Father Coming Home deserve to be widely anthologized. The poems Powwow and The Reservation Cab Driver are very funny, yet sad at the same time. The short story Special Delivery is exceptional and will stay with me for quite some ...more
Jul 11, 2009 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sherman Alexie has a way with words, a way to bend them to be so beautiful and so heartbreaking, so real. I love his poetry just like I love Flannery O'Connor's short stories (I just finished reading Everything That Rises Must Converge as well) - they are both comfortingly predictable writers. And Alexie is not consistent in a boring way. His stories are always new but recall upon the same dreams and characters, so that you feel you can share in his world, almost as if you and he are old friends ...more
Eirian Houpe
Dec 19, 2012 Eirian Houpe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poems and Stories to Connect with the Soul

It is hard to know where to begin in a review of this collection of stories and poems evocative of the life and culture of the Native American people in today's society; life on the reservation, simply to say that the writing is fantastic... excellent and opens up your heart and soul to the myriad emotions held up like a mirror, right in your face.

The language used is both poetic and earthy, uncomfortable at times, and yet makes you listen, draws you in
pretty much perfect...moments of brilliant vision, and comic phrasing of tragic stuff, made me think more about the twisted past and present of this country, american indians, reservations, and me--but I loved Flight and Absolutely True Diary a million times more, for my star system to mean anything I guess have to go with three stars for this one. ...partly that has to do with the printing though--I'm not down with gritty independent poetry private-publishing books, with tweake ...more
Sherman Alexie's first book is a little too esoteric for me. I have the same problems with it that I have with some of the stories in his other books, but as always, he's at the very least extremely engaging. Only read this if you are a fan, and I'd most definitely recommend that you read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Toughest Indian in the World (which contains my favorite story of his, "Dear John Wayne").
Dec 15, 2012 Mirrani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short book full of poems and stories centered on modern life around the reservation. There are times when the writing is deep and emotional, times when it is laid back and thoughtful and times when the story is only that; a story told to those who are listening. It is all very modern-creative type writing with a deeper meaning settled somewhere within, but it is all so beautifully done that you might just find yourself revisiting the book again and again. You might even have a different experi ...more
Jan 24, 2013 Janie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, pnw, shorts
The Good
Favorite poem: "Grandmother"

The Other(wise)
This was like a bad dream where you can't figure out what the story is but it is very important that you know what it is. Some atrocity happened and will happen and you can't amend or avoid it.

I may not have gone on with the whole thing if I didn't already know and love Alexie stories.

The Line
for my 2013-Books found poem:
- "Me, closing my eyes."
Nov 18, 2012 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexie's first major book - his stories, as I'd expect from reading later books, are great but it's his poetry here that packs a terrific punch - his poetry just sings! I think it's interesting how in this book he uses Crazy Horse in the same fashion that Thomas King uses Coyote in Green Grass, Running Water - a figure who has physical presence, mythological scope and a cultural resonance that is wonderfully provocative.
This is an interesting collection of poems and brief essays/short stories. I think it was intentional, but the written word begs the reader to wonder about the truthfulness of what is on the page. There was a continual question about what is autobiographical and what is fiction and does that matter. Does the reader need to know where that line is drawn? Does it affect us if something is strictly true or fabricated? Do we need the story to have actually happened for us to interact with it?
Dec 25, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though this is pretty early on for Alexie, this has some really good stuff in it. It may not hit the same heights as some of his later writing, but you can see in it where he is going to go later. And, as with some of his other collections, I like getting some of his poetry mixed in with some of his prose. I'm less likely to pick up a book of pure poetry and this way I still get to see some of Alexie's poetry. All in all, this is a good collection and I'm glad I read it.
Sep 03, 2016 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a reluctant relationship with poetry, unsure how to interpret the lines that end mid-sentence and the sentences that jump across stanzas. However, in order to complete my blackout, I needed a book of poetry. My library offered some familiar names, but I ultimately settled on this collection because Sherman Alexie has never let me down. Poetry continues to mystify, while Alexie does what he does best. #bookbingonw2016
Jan 24, 2014 K.m. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
While I am always wooed by Alexie's lyric chops, I prefer his more worn-in voice. This feels more youthful, less integrated, than some of his other work but still chock full of the raw goodness.

"All us stoic Indians rehearsing for parts as extras in some eternal black and white western. Shit, used to be only whites expected Skins to have monosyllabic faces, but now, we even expect it of each other."
From Eugene Boyd Don't Drink Here Anymore
Apr 27, 2012 Leta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short stories and short poems about a way of life that I know very little about. "Fancydancing" seemed to just scratch the surface, unlike the story of his that I heard on Selected Shorts, "Breaking and Entering." "Fancydancing" is an earlier work so the difference in depth between those stories and "Breaking and Entering" is very encouraging. I enjoyed Alexie's authorial voice and would like to read more of his work.
Revisiting my Alexie shelf - can't recommend this miraculous collection enough! One of my top ten favorite poems by anyone, anywhere, anytime is found here: "Giving Blood." It makes me laugh and then cry no matter how many times I have read it. I think, when Alexie is at his best for me, is when he adopts the voice that flows through this poem, that is storytelling and prose-poem-like.
Jul 10, 2010 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, short-stories
Humorous, moving, and insightful, this collection of poems and short stories is Alexie first book EVER. The content is focused more on the reservation and "Indian-ness" than in his later works, which focus more on relationships. Reoccurring images include house fires, pow wows, and fancydancing. It was fun to read this book to see where Alexie began.
May 21, 2010 Allie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection that shows Alexie's strong voice and talent for language. I had read some of his longer works, but had been meaning to read this for a long time. I did like the short stories more than the poems, as I felt that's where his writing really shined. Still, it was all good and I even started reading it again after I'd finished.
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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
More about Sherman Alexie...

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“Everyone I have lost
in the closing of a door
the click of the lock

is not forgotten, they
do not die but remain
within the soft edges
of the earth, the ash

of house fires and cancer
in sin and forgiveness
huddled under old blankets

dreaming their way into
my hands, my heart
closing tight like fists.

- "Indian Boy Love Song #1”
“and then she asks me how many sexual partners I've had and I say one or two
depending on your definition of what I did to Custer . . .”
More quotes…