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June 30, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: June's Best Book

Kate Hart

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?"


Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. We'd love for you to participate!


  1. I need to read some of his writing. I haven't yet!

  2. I've never read any of his writing, either, but I've always wanted to.

  3. I actually have never heard of Sherman Alexie--thanks for the recommendation. And I think the best book I read in June was Watership Down...

  4. I know this is beside the point (or is it?), but that is an awesome picture of John Krasinski...

  5. Will you share him as a backup boyfriend? Sherman's been a literary crush of mine since I saw him speak at Maui Writer's Conf years ago. In fact, I blogged about Sherman today, too. -- Barbara

  6. I think I'm developing a crush...

    That quote was FANTASTIC.

  7. I still have "Part-Time Indian" sitting in a pile with my other "To Read" books. That excerpt just pushed him to the top, though. :)

  8. "How can we be so different, thought Paul, if we all know the lyrics to the same one thousand songs?"

    love that.

  9. I loooove alexie so much. Awesome! I've got another book for my wishlist!

  10. Ooh, I think I need to read this! I loved Part-Time Indian.

  11. how have I not read this guy?

    really need to fix that up


  12. I have boyfriends for different occasions. I have a college football boyfriend, a pro football boyfriend, a TV sitcom boyfriend, a US World Cup Men's Soccer Team boyfriend (Jozy Altidore, *swoon*)...

    What I'm trying to say is, Sherman Alexie is 100% my Northwest Writer/Poet Boyfriend. Love him. So much.


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