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War Dances

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  6,311 ratings  ·  864 reviews
In his first new fiction since winning the National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, best-selling author Sherman Alexie delivers a virtuoso collection of tender, witty, and soulful stories that expertly capture modern relationships from the most diverse angles. War Dances brims with Alexie’s poetic and revolutionary prose, and reminds us once ...more
Hardcover, 209 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,311 ratings  ·  864 reviews

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William Thomas
Aug 21, 2011 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
Apr 18, 2013 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 12, 2009 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
Mari Butler
Nov 22, 2011 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)
May 29, 2011 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
Sherman Alexie’s War Dances is a book I was really looking forward to and really enjoyed reading. I loved it without being in awe with it, enjoyed it without making a song and dance about it. It’s a book you don’t really have much to say about once you finish reading it. Like having a coffee with a friend you see often – you talk about things in life: family problems due to alcohol, falling for someone you’ve met at an airport, politics and finding out your high-school friend is gay, some poetry ...more
Oct 20, 2009 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 M 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 Spo ...more
May 27, 2010 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 07, 2015 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 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 th
Feb 18, 2014 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
Tyler Hill
Sep 04, 2011 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 17, 2009 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
Nov 10, 2009 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
Aug 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sherman-alexie

“After our earliest ancestors crawled out of the oceans, how soon did they feel the desire to crawl back in?” (l. 1718)

Sherman Alexie is an extremely gifted storyteller with a penchant for hopelessness. His collection of well written stories and poems, War Dances, despite moments of wry and sardonic humor, offers the reader mostly futility, wrought with existential angst.

“Does a holy song lose its power if its singer is untalented?” (l. 452)

Recommendation: Of course you should r
May 10, 2014 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
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I always forget how great Sherman Alexie is until I pick up another one of his books. War Dances is a concise powerhouse of hilarity, emotion, bitter truth, and even more bitter revelations about history and the American experience. Alexie proves to be a master of the short form here, featuring poems, essay-like meditations, and short stories. The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless (which is the inspiration for the red Pumas on the cover) might be the funniest, most intelligent heartbreaker I've read in ...more
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.
Courtney Umlauf
Short stories and poetry aren't normally what I'm drawn to, but I'll read pretty much anything by Alexie. He combines pain and humor so effortlessly. I can't think of another author who does this quite so well.
Apr 30, 2016 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.
Trudy Preston
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sherman Alexie is one of my very favorite authors and this book has been on my "to read" shelf since it was first published in 2009. (One of the great moments/humiliations of my life is when I was attending an American Library Association meeting and my boss, who knew my fondness for Alexie, said he had a surprise for me--and then walked me over to a spot in the Exhibit Hall where he introduced me to the author. My boss had run into him in the Exhibit Hall, told him how much I liked him, and ask ...more
Elisabeth Bialosky
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I probably would give this a 4.5 stars, not a 4. There were particular stories that I would give a 5, like the senator's son and the introductory one. Sherman Alexie is better with words than any other author I have read. The only thing that I wasn't completely sold on was the connection between each piece, but some other people may have less of a problem with this. Either way, I would highly recommend to anyone.
Cathy Sites
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the 2nd Alexie book that I have listened to, and I am a huge fan. This particular book addresses the demons within each of us through short stories and metaphors. He makes me think, he makes me laugh, and sometimes I just want to cry. Ultimately I want to hear more....everything....that Sherman Alexie writes.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
i thought this collection was very interesting and moving. some of the stories were a little slow and confusing but that’s just my preference. most of the stories though were like real page turners i wanted to keep reading. i think Alexie’s writing is so unique and different but so beautiful. i would definitely recommend this book to people enjoy quick reads with many metaphors and provoking thoughts.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
This novel is comprised of a few short stories, but I think the first section of the book stood out to me the most. On pages 16-17, Alexis writes of the stereotypes and bad reputation placed on white people (rightfully so, but still...), and while other issues are addressed in the book, I found this one the most captivating.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved the poems. The stories were more of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the writing in all of them, but some hit home for me more than others.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
While this book wasn't for me overall, I did greatly enjoy parts of it, especially some of the 'shock value' scenes.
Meghan Fidler
Oct 30, 2012 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
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, library
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
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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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