Sherman Alexie | Critical Review by James Beschta

This literature criticism consists of approximately 1 page of analysis & critique of Sherman Alexie.
This section contains 257 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
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Critical Review by James Beschta

SOURCE: A review of First Indian on the Moon, in Kliatt, Vol. 28, No. 3, May, 1994, p. 23.

Below, Beschta surveys Native American themes in First Indian on the Moon.

[First Indian on the Moon] opens with "Influences," a poem of the survival of young Indian children in the face of the alcoholism that dominates their parents, their reservation, their world. That theme of Indian survival in a hostile environment is constant throughout the book, as is the alcoholism, depression and poverty of the reservation system. Through varying situations and scenes, these pieces are connected by their reaction to the establishment which has systematically abused Native Americans. Not so long ago, this would have been labeled "protest poetry" in its reaction to a perceived political agenda.

      Children, the enemy reads us the news
      at 6 o'clock every night.

Yet this book rises above this simplistic categorization. It does so because of its lyricism;

     … Here I offer what I own:
     this crown of flame, this skin scarred
     and blistered, this sinner curled
     like blackened leaves
     in the hands of an angry god.

and it does so because of its intellectual perception;

     Often, in this poetry, we steal words, gather kindling,
     twist newspaper, circle rocks, and wait for the flame. We
     create metaphors to compensate for what we have lost.

and it does so in its pride and optimism;

     but every once in a while
     we can remind each other
     that we are both survivors and children
     and grandchildren of survivors.

The theme here is limited but sincere. The writing is skillful and effective. This book serves both as social conscience and art.

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This section contains 257 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by James Beschta
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