In the event that Apolo Ohno and Jon Krasinski are unable to fulfill their duties as my backup boyfriend, Sherman Alexie is my new nominee (and let's face it: that's some serious competition right there).
wait, what? oh. right.
It's not like I haven't fangirled over Alexie before-- PART-TIME INDIAN is one of my favorite books ever, and I used some of his work in college history papers. But WAR DANCES is the first collection of his short stories I've read, and I like it better than his adult novels. (I also adore the cover, which is neither here nor there.)
Alexie won the National Book Award for this one, so I hesitate to admit that I loved the poetry in it less than the stories. That's true for me in general, so it's not a terribly fair criticism. But even in the poetry, his mix of amazing imagery and dry wit always wins me over.
An excerpt from my favorite story, The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless.
"'She's gone, she's gone,'" Paul sang the chorus of that Hall & Oates song. He sang without irony, for he was a twenty-first-century American who'd been taught to mourn his small and large losses by singing Top 40 hits.
There was a rule book: When a man is rebuffed by a beautiful stranger he must sing blue-eyed soul; when a man is drunk with the loneliness of being a frequent flyer he must sing Mississippi Delta blues; when a man wants revenge he must whistle the soundtrack of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. When a man's father and mother die within three months of each other, he must sing Rodgers and Hammerstein: 'Oklahoma! Oklahoma Okay!'
Despite all the talk of diversity and division--of red and blues states, of black and white and brown people, of rich and poor, gay and straight-- Paul believed that Americans were shockingly similar. How can we be so different, thought Paul, if we all know the lyrics to the same one thousand songs?"
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