A Collection of Critical Essays
Edited by Jeff Berglund & Jan Roush
Literary Criticism / American Indian
Sherman Alexie is, by many accounts, the most widely read American Indian writer in the United States and likely in the world. A literary polymath, Alexie's nineteen published books span a variety of genres and include his most recent National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Now, for the first time, a volume of critical essays is devoted to Alexie's work both in print and on the big screen. Editors Jeff Berglund and Jan Roush have assembled twelve leading scholars of American Indian literature to provide new perspectives on a writer with his finger on the pulse of America. Interdisciplinary in their approach to Alexie's work, these essays cover the writers entire career, and are insightful and accessible to scholars and lay readers alike. This volume is a worthy companion to the work of one of our nations most recognized contemporary voices.
Jeff Berglund is an associate professor of English at Northern Arizona University. He is the author of Cannibal Fictions: American Explorations of Colonialism, Race, Gender, and Sexuality.
Jan Roush is an associate professor of English at Utah State University. She is the author of Pulling Leather: Being the Early Recollections of a Cowboy on the Wyoming Range, 1884–1889.
Elizabeth Archuleta, Arizona State University
Jeff Berglund, Northern Arizona University
Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez, Bradley University
James H. Cox, University of Texas at Austin
Stephen F. Evans, University of Kansas
P. Jane Hafen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Philip Heldrich, University of Washington, Tacoma
Patrice Hollrah, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Meredith K. James, Eastern Connecticut State University
Janis (Jan) Johnson, University of Idaho
Angelica Lawson, University of Montana
Margaret O'Shaughnessey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nancy J. Peterson, Purdue University
Jan Roush, Utah State University
Lisa Tatonetti, Kansas State University
Table of Contents:
Introduction: “Imagination Turns Every Word into a Bottle Rocket”: An Introduction to Sherman Alexie
Dancing That Way, Things Began to Change: The Ghost Dance as Pantribal Metaphor in Sherman Alexie’s Writing
“Survival = Anger x Imagination”: Sherman Alexie’s Dark Humor
“An Extreme Need to Tell the Truth”: Silence and Language in Sherman Alexie’s “The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire”
Rock and Roll, Redskins, and Blues in Sherman Alexie’s Work
P. Jane Hafen
This Is What It Means to Say Reservation Cinema: Making Cinematic Indians in Smoke Signals
James H. Cox
Native Sensibility and the Significance of Women in Smoke Signals
The Distinctive Sonority of Sherman Alexie’s Indigenous Poetics
Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez
The Poetics of Tribalism in Sherman Alexie’s The Summer of Black Widows
Nancy J. Peterson
Sherman Alexie’s Challenge to the Academy’s Teaching of Native American Literature, Non-Native Writers, and Critics
“Indians Do Not Live in Cities, They Only Reside There”: Captivity and the Urban Wilderness in Indian Killer
Indigenous Liaisons: Sex/Gender Variability, Indianness, and Intimacy in Sherman Alexie’s The Toughest Indian in the World
Stephen F. Evans
Sherman Alexie’s Transformation of “Ten Little Indians”
Healing the Soul Wound in Flight and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The Business of Writing: Sherman Alexie’s Meditations on Authorship
Praise and Reviews:
"The bar is raised. I believe this work will be seen as a role model for literary criticism of Native American fiction, poetry, and film."
—Simon Ortiz, poet and professor of English at Arizona State University
"An important and timely work.... This volume sets a high standard of scholarship for those committed to grappling with the broader complexities of Alexie's life and work. The collaborative tenor of the project is particularly refreshing, because it invites scholars to converse across disciplines in order to keep pace with an iconic writer whose literary reputation now extends far beyond the Pacific Northwest."
—Pacific Northwest Quarterly
"An exciting addition to the growing body of scholarship on Sherman Alexie's work. The extensive bibliography of work by and about Alexie that appears at the end of this collection alone makes this book an invaluable resource for scholars and future scholars of Alexie's work."
—Studies in American Indian Literatures