This is a post in my 50 Nifty series, in which I’m reading through 50 books that embody each of the 50 United States. Find out why I’m doing this and which books I’m reading when (so you can read along) by checking out my first 50Nifty post, or else browse all 50Nifty posts by clicking here!
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories from Sherman Alexie, who is perhaps better known as a poet. Alexie is a Spokane Indian who grew up on a reservation, and his insights into and portrayal of the modern American Indian experience are eyeopening and alternately heartwarming and chilling. The description on Amazon.com reads, “The author depicts with fierce determination all the elements of modern Native American life, from basketball and alcoholism to powwows and the unexplained deaths of insignificant people. Humor and tragedy exist side by side, and stories often jump back and forth in time and space, recounting two narratives that ultimately prove to be skeins of the same tale.” It’s a quick read, but because many of the stories are interwoven, it feels very cohesive.
As a selection for the 50Nifty list, I heartily approve. This is so grounded in the history, land, and people of Washington State, and that coupled with the awards the book has won make it a perfect fit, even surpassing one of my favorite books about the Pacific Northwest, The River Why.