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War Dances

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,924 Ratings  ·  733 Reviews
Fresh off his National Book Award win, Alexie delivers a heartbreaking, hilarious collection of stories that explores the precarious balance between self-preservation and external responsibility in art, family, and the world at large. With unparalleled insight into the minds of artists, laborers, fathers, husbands, and sons, Alexie populates his stories with ordinary men o ...more
Hardcover, 209 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichGreen Grass, Running Water by Thomas KingThree Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Best Native American/First Nations Fiction
8th out of 367 books — 262 voters
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
84th out of 588 books — 536 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 18, 2013 Madeline rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I haven't read any Sherman Alexie since The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian back in college, and I had forgotten how much I missed him. Another reviewer, when writing about this book, called Alexie's work "honest", and I think that's really the best description of this little collection of short stories and poems (there's even a chapter where Alexie gives us a poem he wrote about his father and then deconstructs all the lies in it). Not all the stories are fantastic, but most are lov ...more
Oct 28, 2009 Bean rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bean by: Sherman Alexie
Loved it.

So, on Sunday I went to see Sherman Alexie read from his new book, War Dances, at Wordstock09, and it was nothing short of great. If you’re unfamiliar with him I’d recommend any of his books, but my favorite so far is still his young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a mostly hilarious coming of age story of growing up on a reservation, but going to an all white private school.

One of the great parts of his reading that that he told stories to segue into
William Thomas
Aug 21, 2011 William Thomas rated it liked it
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 writ
Mari Butler
Nov 22, 2011 Mari Butler rated it it was amazing
I first saw Sherman Alexie as a featured guest author on an episode of The Colbert Report. At the time he told Stephen Colbert that he didn’t want his books on the Kindle. He felt that it compromised the integrity of the book because it wasn’t written in ink on paper and could be altered. I thought it was interesting that he was Native American and he was resisting technology to preserve traditional publications. I got both the hardcover copy and the audio book of “War Dances” from the library s ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 26, 2011 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it it was ok
Shelves: idle-no-more
Suffered by comparison to Erdrich's The Plague of Doves, but I needed a palate cleanser and this was nearby. The short stories were ... okay. The poems were less than okay and didn't add anything. Generally, I like poems that play with language and are more lyrical - this kind of spare, naive stuff only works when it's clearly integrated into the rest of the collection - these didn't seem to be so.

I found the whole thing a mish-mash, lacking any clear focus or overall point of view. The quality
May 23, 2016 Milka rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Sherman Alexie's War Dances is a fairly short and extremely entertaining collection of short stories and poetry. It was also my first experience with Alexie's prose, since he was familiar to me only as a screenwriter of the brilliant film Smoke Signals (1998), a comedy/drama directed by Chris Eyre.

After taking a postcolonial theory and an ethnicity in North American film classes I have become increasingly interested in Native American voices and representation. I have seen my fair share of West
Aug 11, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read in a long time. And I got to listen to Alexie read it himself. These are (some of) the themes that are important to Alexie, infused in his life and this collection of poems and short stories: truth, music, identity, rage, sex, storytelling itself, nationalism/imperialism/capitalism, grief, loss. Maybe I love Alexie and everything he touches because all of these things are fascinating to me too.

Not all, but many of my strongest friendships were cultivated after I
Oct 27, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who can easily transition from laughter to tears
Oh Sherman, you somehow manage to make me feel like a friend, an enemy, a racist, and a coconsipirator all at the same time. You evoke emotions and then distance me from them. Oh the experience of reading a Sherman Alexie book! OH the experience of hearing him speak live.

Reading the purportedly non-autobiographical (lies!) short stories and poetry of War Dances, I felt like Sherman was standing naked in front of me saying, "Look! This is me! See this blemish? Look closer!" It was not always the
Christina Rau
Having fallen in love with Sherman Alexie's writing style and themes, I picked up War Dances, a collection of his short stories. That's what its label says, but that's not really what it is. This collection has stories, but it also has poetry and even fragments that are in the form of Q&A that tell a story through the juxtaposition of question content and incongruent answers. Alexie's emotional description of alcohol abuse on reservations and the often overlooked difference between white and ...more
Dec 12, 2010 Randy rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Driving through Doghill, Arkansaw the other day, I just happened to dodge one of the numerous canine fucks that inhabit the roadside there when the Sherman Alexie poem that opens this book popped into my head deranged as it was with fresh groud, dark roast, bartered in the sex trade, shade grown by anthill coffee:

The Limited

I saw a man swerve his car
And try to hit a stray dog
But the quick mutt dodged
Between two parked cars

And made his escape...

Why do poets think
They can change the world?
The only
Mar 08, 2015 Rob rated it really liked it
Ever find you really like a book but don’t have much to say about it? So it is with Sherman Alexie’s War Dances. It is, in typical Alexie fashion, a gracefully written collection of short stories and poems that manages to be insightful not just about what it means to be Native American in the 21st Century, but how personal identity is a profoundly unreliable thing that nevertheless greatly influences the way we get by in the world. Each piece is – if I can use such a word without fear of ridicul ...more
Danny Shelton
Oct 12, 2010 Danny Shelton rated it it was amazing
War Dances is a book best read in one sitting for no other reason than the likelihood that a reader wouldn’t want (or need) to stop reading it in the first place.
Sherman Alexie is a Spokane Indian, and Grove Press published the book in 2009.
The book follows a general pattern and is divided up into sections, making the book very fluid and easy to read, with a length of just over 200 pages. Roughly, the sections begin with a poem, are followed by a short story, then a sort of interview with the
Tyler Hill
Sep 04, 2011 Tyler Hill rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Sherman Alexie is one of those authors that, for a while now, I've felt like I should check out. He's a fellow Seattleite, and when I've heard him speak on NPR and other places, I've generally found him pretty entertaining to listen to. That said, I also tend to be wary of authors who's subject matter could be described as one-note... and with most of his novels titles featuring the word "Indian" in them, I was concerned it might be the case with his writing.

With that in mind, this book (or "mi
Oct 21, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing
This is my first experience reading Alexie, even though I've known about and admired him for years. He moved to Seattle and started writing in the early '90s -- about the same time I did moved here, so I feel an affinity with him for that reason. However, he is also the kind of accessible writer that appeals to you on a down to ear level. You feel like he's your friend even though you've never met him. His writing is effortless to read, it flows and twists and takes you on a trip. It makes you l ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Kit rated it really liked it
Very entertaining collection of stories by Alexie, told with the wit and honesty he is known for as a poet. I have been reading through his work as a start to increase my understanding of the Native American experience, particularly here in Washington. My partner has a family history linked to the Coeur d'Alene Native Americans, and I would like to understand as much as I can. His body of work alone has introduced me to so many concepts that I was completely unfamiliar with in my public school e ...more
Nov 10, 2009 Brenda rated it liked it
Shelves: ss
If you've never read Sherman Alexie, please do not start here. Get a copy of Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fist Fight in Heaven or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ASAP. These works will make you laugh and cry and marvel at Alexie's genius. Established fans will most likely read this one, and although the short stories and poems are well written, might find War Dances lacking that wry humor and force that Alexie's other works carry.

P.S. Sherman Alexie - when I read Flight, I thought
Apr 30, 2016 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-a-z
This is the first book I have read from Sherman Alexie. I have to say the first 80% went really quick. It was hilariously funny, raw, to the point, frustrating and more. I enjoyed this read.
Mar 30, 2015 Vicky rated it really liked it
I recently heard Alexie speak as part of Montana State University President's Fine Arts Series. This year's series, Creative Nations showcased Native American artists of all kinds.
I was most familiar with Alexie as the writer of the movie Smoke Signals (highly recommended if you have never seen it), but had not read his poetry or short stories. I can't add much more than the review by Madeline which I have "Liked". I was a bit disappointed that he did not read so
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sherman Alexie can say a lot in so few words, it is hard to pinpoint why these poems and short stories are so touching. I will not forget the story about his father and the blanket. Other favorite bits include "Home of the Braves" and the musings on music in "The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless." The story itself (Paul) was disturbing, but I was caught up in the embedded philosophy.
Oct 16, 2009 Amber rated it it was amazing
Sherman Alexie’s classic short story, “This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” makes you feel as though someone has Kung-Fu gripped your heart, just really squeezed the hell out of the thing. In the immortal words of John Mellencamp during his prolific “John Cougar” phase, Alexie’s writing hurts so good. , Alexie’s latest collection of short fiction, poetry, autobiography, and genre defying acrobatics, is no exception.

In “On Airplanes” one of War Dances longer poems, the speaker complain
Natalie Carvajal
Dec 03, 2015 Natalie Carvajal rated it it was amazing
Amazing so far! I bought it a couple of hours ago...I typed Sherman Alexie in the Chapters search database at the store (thinking I'd see if I could find any of the work at the store, I have always wanted to read more after "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian"...)after having no success in searching for Lee Maracle's works. We found War Dances, a hardcover version for $7.99...and after hunting for a long time finally found it OUTSIDE the Bargain fiction section buried under a table ...more
Oct 23, 2009 Terri rated it liked it
Alexie's latest, a multi-genre collection of short stories, poetry, and question and answer sequences, has been greatly anticipated. In one word...ANGST...fills the pages of Alexie's most recent publication. His Indian angst, father/son angst, Catholic angst, racial angst, sex angst, gay angst, writer angst, etc. is too much for me. I wondered what it must be like to live with him. Clearly a complex, deep-thinking man, reading this book was like a college exercise (I have an English degree). One ...more
Jan 28, 2010 Ciara rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
i just put this book on hold at the library as soon as i heard of its existence. i didn't know if it was short stories or a novel or what. it turned out to be short stories mixed with poetry. i wasn't entirely psyched about this, because i am really not a fan of poetry. i know poetry is really sherman alexie's big thing--the dude writes a lot of poetry. i surprised myself by actually liking a lot of it. they were like observations in prose form, as opposed to whimsical crap about nature or whate ...more
Josh L.
Mar 22, 2012 Josh L. rated it liked it
Synopsis: Ward Dances was a quick read. It didn't have one big story line and it had poems and short stories. One of my favorite stories was about a righter who had his house broken into while he was in the heat of writing a story. Startled and scared the writer approached the intruder with a baseball bat and struck him a good blow right to the head. It killed the young black intruder on impact and every one in town thought he was a monster for murdering this young black kid. Weeks later, the wh ...more
Meghan Fidler
Nov 01, 2012 Meghan Fidler rated it it was amazing
For my untrained and unpublished tastes and pleasures, Sherman Alexie is at his best while he is mixing genres. I adore the short story "War Dances," which combines interviews, poetry, multiple choice questions, and narrative to produce a sense of disconnected time and emotions for the reader. "War Dances" is not only filled with exemplars of this writing style, it is also filled with people: real characters developed in the difficult tandem of well paired action and thought.
An example of such
Sep 11, 2013 John rated it really liked it
This book is the one to read if I wished to write an almost fictionalized story of events in my life. Some of Alexie's stories have some element in common with his life, and I think of times in my life that I would write about the people and places I have found interesting.
"The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless" sounds so much like perhaps Alexie is thinking out loud and writing down encounters in his life. Sara Smile is like so many dreamgirls (dream women) that I have seen or met. I daydream and w
Sara Habein
Aug 07, 2010 Sara Habein rated it really liked it
Thanks to Sherman Alexie, I will forever be pilfering the phrase “terminally nostalgic.” When I saw him read back in December, I asked him how he felt about seeing the places he has written about disappear over time. He said that he was constantly thinking about what was no more, even down to the now-closed doughnut shop where he worked for three weeks, and that as a Spokane Indian, nostalgia will always be a part of who he is.

Because of this, Alexie’s work is forever filled with a sense of long
Jan 17, 2012 Julka rated it liked it
War dances to zbiór różnych form literackich: opowiadań, wierszy i innych trudniejszych do sklasyfikowania. Sherman pisze w swoich tekstach o rasizmie, problemach małżeńskich, kryzysie tradycji, zmianach przekonań. Mamy więc młodego Indianina, który odbywa staż w lokalnej gazecie gdzie pod czujnym okiem dziennikarki uczy się pisać nekrologi, syna senatora, który musi nauczyć się wielu rzeczy o winie i odkupieniu, czy też niewiernego małżonka, który po portach lotniczych szuka nowej miłości swoje ...more
Nov 04, 2009 jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
sherman alexie is a swell guy. he's funny, creative, antagonistic, self-deprecating, and unabashed. these qualities are evident in his writing, and make for a refreshing, enjoyable read. war dances, alexie's newest collection of short stories, short pieces, and short poems, is an entertaining work. while i don't find any of it to be extraordinary, per se, there certainly is much to like. of the stories, "breaking and entering," "the senator's son," "the ballad of paul nonetheless," and "salt" st ...more
Sep 05, 2010 Jinny rated it really liked it
I’m damn glad not to be Paul Nonetheless, who doesn’t want to be forgotten. Or the senator’s son. And I wish that – without the diabetes and alcoholism and decades of disappointment – I could hear my father sing a beautiful death song. A real one.

That’s how affecting is Sherman Alexie’s ‘War Dances.’ This collection of stories is arresting in its honesty, vulnerability, and extraordinary expression of the ordinary lonely, the confused, the lusty, the scared, the fully human in so many dimension
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  • The Caprices
  • The Bear Comes Home
  • The Old Forest and Other Stories
  • Women in Their Beds: New and Selected Stories
  • Sent for You Yesterday
  • Dusk and Other Stories
  • The Collected Stories
  • How German is It (Wie Deutsch ist es)
  • The Chaneysville Incident
  • Blue Horses Rush In: Poems and Stories
  • People of the Whale
  • Winter in the Blood
  • American Salvage
  • The Early Stories
  • Last Standing Woman
  • Mattaponi Queen
  • The Red Convertible
  • The Barracks Thief
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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“It's not oil that runs the world, it's shame.” 23 likes
“Pain is never added to pain. It multiplies.” 11 likes
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