Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Ten Little Indians" by Sherman Alexie

In one sense, a reader could say they always know what they'll get with a Sherman Alexie story: a Native American character in some sort of dire straits. But that would be where the predictability ends. The stories in this collection contain surprises. Like in "What Ever Happened to Frank Snake Church?", where Frank learns that the man called Preacher, whom he's been playing basketball, is in fact not a man a God but simply talks too much.

And in "The Search Engine," where a college student named Corliss finds an obscure poetry book by an unknown Spokane Native American. All along, the reader thinks the poet will be exposed as a fraud (not even Corliss' mother, records keeps for the Spokane people, has heard of him). But the answer proves more complicated--the poet was indeed Spokane but adopted by a white family--and through this highlights the difficulties of identity, of assimilation, and of being different.

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