Sherman Alexie | Critical Review by Joseph Bruchac

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Sherman Alexie.
This section contains 342 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Andrea-Bess Baxter

Critical Review by Joseph Bruchac

SOURCE: A review of First Indian on the Moon, in Small Press, Vol. 12, No. 1, Winter, 1994, p. 86.

In the following review of First Indian on the Moon, Bruchac explores Alexie's evolution as a writer.

Few young writers have burst onto the scene with as much praise as Sherman Alexie. His first book, [I Would Steal Horses,] published in 1992, was called "wide-ranging and dexterous" with "an astonishing range of voice and emotion." First Indian on the Moon, his second volume of poems published by Hanging Loose Press, is further evidence that such praise was truly warranted.

In some ways, this book is more unified than his first, for it can almost be read as a cycle of poems—about Native loves and losses and fires—set against the backdrop of the Spokane Reservation. The double-edged theme of fire appears again and again in his pictures of an Indian family so cursed by conflagrations that "When the Tribal Cop heard on his radio / that a car was burning down at Little Falls Dam, his first thought / was Those damn Alexies and their goddamn cars." That kind of humor, understated at times and broader than burlesque at others, is so typical of contemporary Native life and so seldom caught in print that I found myself holding my breath as I raced from poem to poem with titles, such as "Reservation Drive-In," "The Alcoholic Love Poems," "Tiny Treaties," and "Seven Long Songs Which Include the Collective History of the United States." The mirror he holds reflects us all, Native and transplant American alike.

There is enough love, heartbreak, and ironic intelligence in this small book to fill an encyclopedia. Although Alexie may sometimes lean a little too far towards repetition, it simply means there is room for growth at the start of what bodes to be a long, meaningful career. There is the kind of spiritual strength in his work that speaking the most painful truths can bring. First Indian on the Moon is strong medicine—but a medicine needed by us all.

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This section contains 342 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Andrea-Bess Baxter