Ten Little Indians

ISBN: 0965259684
ISBN 13: 9780965259682
By: Sherman Alexie

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Reader's Thoughts

Jamilla Rice

Now, just to let you know, Sherman Alexie is like meth with me. I get a hit and I have to keep going, sometimes losing sleep, until I have run through my stash. Then I start getting itchy all over wanting more. I was addicted from the first time I saw Smoke Signals, but I became absolutely enraptured from the moment I read the first line in "Every Little Hurricane", the first short story in his collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven which includes the title story that was the basis for the Smoke Signals, screenplay. His writing is hilarious, poignant, maddeningly sad, yet still hopeful. He makes me want to write more whenever I read him. He also makes me realize that there are so many stories that we have in our heads that we've fashioned, both fiction and nonfiction, that need to be told. The first story, "The Search Engine" is a magnificently bad pun, yet perfect for the content. The main character, Corliss, a college student, voracious reader, and unapologizing eavesdropper is a breath of fresh air. The next story, "Lawyer's League" centers on individual and group politics and Alexie's other pastime, playing basketball. Ten Little Indians has sat on my shelf at work for quite some time, but this was the right time to hear a few new stories from a great storyteller, and I am ever so thankful for Mr. Alexie's words.Favorite/Memorable Quotes:“A good gun will always beat a good poem.” “I hope not,” Corliss said and walked away. (4)“She’d been a resourceful thief, a narcissistic Robin Hood who stole a rich education from white people and kept it.” (5)“Maybe every book in every library is patiently waiting for its savior.” (9)“What kind of Indian loses her mind over a book of poems? She was that kind of Indian, she was exactly that kind of Indian, and it was the only kind of Indian she knew how to be.” (9)“How can you live a special life without constantly interrogating it? How can you live a good life without good poetry?” (13)“College was an extreme sport for an Indian woman. Maybe ESPN should send a camera crew to cover her academic career. Maybe she should be awarded medals for taking American history and not shooting everybody during the hour and a half in which they covered five hundred years of Indian history.” (30)“It’s tough to be a smart girl anywhere, but it’s way tough on the rez.” (126)

Theresa Sivelle

Well, I only made it thru the 4th story. That is all I care to read. I didn't like any of the stories and I didn't care for the writing. It appears that I am definitely in the minority here but I thought the 4 stories that I did read were awful. The sexual references seemed to just be thrown in simply to show that he could and didn't seem to me to add anything of any value to any of the stories I did manage to read. I have absolutely no desire to read any more of this book. Maybe someone in one of my book clubs can convince me otherwise and if so, maybe I'll put this one on a different shelf but if not I will be more than happy to give this one back.Okay, so the facilitator of two of my book groups review seem to indicate that the stories after I stopped weren't bad so I'm going to give this another try. I finished this and the Chapters after the 4th one were better but still not an author I want to read any more books by and still doesn't change my rating.

Jim Cherry

Ten Little Indians is a book of nine short stories by Sherman Alexie each dealing with trying to come to terms with lives that are no longer traditional and they need to fit into American culture. Each story is linked not by characters or even setting (even though all the stories are set in Seattle), but by ideas and themes.The most obvious example are the Indians (that’s what they call themselves) in the stories are searching for new ceremonies for the lives they lead outside of tribal systems, outside of their traditions, and trying to assimilate into the urban west of the 21st Century. Significantly, the first story is titled “The Search Engine.” From Corliss in “Search Engine” to Frank Snake Church in “Whatever Happened to Frank Snake Church?” all the characters are searching for new ceremonies in their lives or to adapt some of their traditional ones to modern life. They work and live in an assimilated world. Something is missing in their lives. As they try to put their finger on it they discover it’s the lack of the traditional life they all have memories of or that is only a generation removed and their parents or grandparents told them about. Most of the characters discover the same solution to their problem by creating new ceremonies and rituals for the lives they lead. Corliss in “The Search Engine” is very aware of creating new rituals as she tracks down a native American poet who doesn’t turn out to be all that she imagines him to be. “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” is almost a fairy tale of a homeless alcoholic Indian and his quest to redeem at least a part of his traditional heritage and what at first seems to be a growing tragedy transcends that altogether and becomes something quite unexpected.Don’t let all this talk of ritual and searching for new ceremonies deter you. The stories have humor to them. Not only do the characters have a cynical outlook on themselves or a sarcastic remark to comment on their situation, but Alexie invests the stories with humor and has fun with the characters. You can tell upon reading that Alexie likes his characters. Even when the characters don’t act so nice it’s evident that Alexie respects the characters and has a certain amount of sympathy for the people in the portraits he’s rendering.While the stories are all of Indians, there are a few Anglos that enter their worlds. What turns the stories to the universal is that the search for new ceremonies for the new world we’ve created isn’t exclusively an Indian pursuit. Today more and more people turn to Native American culture and religion (the last ultimate act of assimilation?) to find their answers in life and we’re passing each other in the opposite direction looking for the same thing.

Matt

Picked it up at the library while trying to find Sherman's new book, which wasn't there. As with 95% of Sherman Alexie's books I thought it was a strong read and a great set of stories. Things that most Native people can connect to pretty easy. My favorite stories are definitely the story about the boy and his mom who are involved with an cohort of white women in a self-help group and the movement of identity from them to this group where there's an attempt of cultural appropriation and the son deals with being raised in this environment as he reaches adulthood. The story about the firefighter turned basketball player I thought was great as well, the development of ceremony and the pretty common ceremony of basketball. The first story was something I guess I could relate to well and ended up enjoying. I've never understood how people who are not Native could like Alexie's work so much as it is infused with culture-specific detail from start to finish. It's good tho, otherwise he may not be able to write all he has.

megan

This is book is a collection of short stories about identifying as a Native American. I found a lot of the stories related to "identifying as a Native American after 9/11"--or at least that was certainly a component to the story. When I checked how old the book was, it looked as though it had been written in 2003, so obviously this was a poignant subject for Mr. Alexie. Also, many of the stories mentioned George W. Bush, so this was obviously a real-life character that was having a strong impact on the author. My favorite short story was probably "Do Not Go Gentle" about a young couple awaiting the fate of their just born baby. It resonated with me for obvious reasons given my current pregnant state, but I also thought it was a very tender story about the crossroads of culture and modern gentrified medicine. Most of the stories were quite good...I feel like I need to "talk it out" with someone to develop common threads and to pull some themes out of it--even though the book is blatantly about crossroads of culture for Native Americans...there seems to be something deeper going on in his stories that I'm just not able to grasp on my own.

Nadia

Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie is not your typical pow-wow Indian imagery, it contains some of the most attractive nine short stories that I have ever read. Alexie uses humor to attack the social issues that Native Americans have to deal with everyday living in the United States. He also uses some of the most unique characteristics in his short stores, here Native Americans vary from homeless Native Americans to the most successful traveling business man with a perfect family. Sherman Alexie also mentions 9/11 in many of his short stories, even though much of the setting takes place in Seattle, 9/11 is represented especially in one of my favorite short stories called Can I Get A Witness?In this short story we are introduced to a wife and mother of two. She is sitting in a restaurant daydreaming about the mystery of her waiter and why he has not given back her credit card back, then a man enters with a bomb around his chest and the woman looks at him with a smile in her face, the complete opposite of what one would do in this situation. As the story continues we come to the conclusion that the woman had always wanted to be in this type of situation to escape her life and fake her death. she mentioned how her husband and children hated her, and found death to be the only solution.I am very glad that Mary put this book in the table because it is a book that does not allow you to keep your eyes off of it. i recommend this book to those who might not really like short stories or those who do, this book will change your perception of short stories because it did for me. I am looking forward to read more of his books.

Tamara

Favorite Quotes: I want to be a yellow and orange leaf some little kid picks up and pastes in his scrapbook.As for my father, he was so long gone that my mother and I called him Long Gone and told each other bedtime stories that always ended with him getting eaten by wild dogs. NOTICE OF HISTORICAL REVISION: I greatly missed my father and only pretended to hate him as much as my mother did.On the long list of things that I am, I’d put Indian at number three, behind “bitterly funny” at number two and “horny bastard” at number one for the last twenty-seven years running. If you put Junior and me next to each other, he’s the Before Columbus Arrived Indian, and I’m the After Columbus Arrived Indian. I am living proof of the horrible damage that colonialism has done to us Skins. But I’m not going to let you know how scared I sometimes get of history and its ways. I’m a strong man, and I know that silence is the best way of dealing with white folks.

Lindsay

I'm still trying to figure out how to say this:The thing I like best about short story collections (by a single author), if they're written well and compiled well, is the feeling I get, after reading each story, of comprehending an intimate secret the author needed me to understand. Poetry and novels both can (and do) knock me out, but there's something about the short story that can really get into my blood.I am in love with this book. I couldn't get enough of it while I was reading it. It accompanied me almost everywhere I went this weekend, and when I thought maybe, for social reasons (and reducing the weight of my purse from being a lethal weapon), I should leave it at home for just a few hours, I obsessed over its absence like a phantom limb or shiny, new lover. I held it like a teddy bear going to sleep at night. I wanted to absorb it into my skin, and I feel this immense sense of guilt for refiling it back onto the bookshelf. I'd rather frame it.Every story contains characters and situations that are tender, profane, and hilarious all at once, and each constantly evaded my expectations by achieving something far greater than anything I could have imagined. I'm not much for spoilers though I hate to not discuss every story for its brilliance, but it seems a little much to tally everything I loved about each story here. I don't recall enjoying The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven as much, but it has been several years and this experience has caused me to seriously consider rereading it.I think you should read this book.

Meghan Fidler

Titled after a fantastic dialog between two non-white men as they described their identities to one another, (in describing his Spokane Identity, the protagonist in "Flight patterns" describes himself not as a 'bejeweled' Indian from India, but the 'bows-and-arrows Indian to a cabbie. The cabby replies, "Oh, you mean ten little, nine little eight little Indians?"), this collection of short stories by Sherman Alexie showcases his talent at describing social relationships. I admire his ability to balance negative events and racial stereotyping with positive, loving moments within the narratives. Here's one of my favorites from the same aforementioned story; a moment between a husband and a wife:"William kissed Marie, reached beneath her pajama top, and squeezed her breasts. He thought about reaching inside her pajama bottoms. She wrapped her arms and legs around him and tried to wrestle him into bed. Oh, God, he wanted to climb into bed and make love. He wanted to fornicate, to sex, to breed, to screw, to make the beast with two backs. Oh, sweetheart, be my little synonym! He wanted her to be both subject and object. Perhaps it was wrong (and unavoidable) to objectify female strangers, but shouldn’t every husband seek to objectify his wife at least once a day? William loved and respected his wife, and delighted in her intelligence, humor, and kindness, but he also loved to watch her lovely ass when she walked, and stare down the front of her loose shirts when she leaned over, and grab her breasts at wildly inappropriate times—during dinner parties and piano recitals and uncontrolled intersections, for instance. He constantly made passes at her, not necessarily expecting to be successful, but to remind her he still desired her and was excited by the thought of her. She was his passive and active."Alexie is a master at portraying tensions between what is 'appropriate' (or even moral) in social relations as double edged: they create both limitations and openings for people. There are few authors who can capture these elements of human life with such an honest and detailed eye.

Dalya Bordman

Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie, Grove Press, New York 2003 Sherman Alexie triumphs as a writer in this collection of short stories, Ten Little Indians. In this collection, Alexie largely deals with the different struggles and different circumstances Native Americans face living in the United States. In his nine stories, Alexie shows points of views from various different Native Americans, mostly living in Seattle Washington. He illustrates how a female college student struggles with her intellectual nature and being Native American, he shows the struggles of a half black half Native American man wanting to become involved in the political arena, and a Native American father struggling with his skin color after the attacks on September 11th. Although Alexie’s stories show distinct viewpoints, they all come together because of the characters in them. Every character shares the common identity as an Indian, thus creating a cohesive collection of short stories. Alexie writes straightforwardly and honestly, with topics like sex, love, and anger coming up throughout almost each story. In “Lawyer’s League,” Alexie honestly writes, “But Teresa seemed to be enjoying it. I wondered how soon I would see her naked” (59). Additionally, in “Flight Patterns” he writes, “He wanted to fornicate, to sex, to breed, to screw, to make the beast with two backs” (105). Thus, Alexie shows no fear of crossing boundaries and exploring human nature through his writing. He is not timid, but bold and forward. Further, Alexie unites all of his stories through Native American ties, yet he undermines many of the common Native American stereotypes. For example, most of the characters do not live on a Reservation; they are educated, and they are sober. Thus, Alexie not only captures the reader with honest, intelligent, and interesting characters, but he also shatters the stereotypes of their people. Thus, Alexie dually creates captivating characters and makes a political statement about Native Americans. Moreover, Alexie’s writing is consistent, yet varied. All of the stories share common threads and elements, however, they are varied enough to maintain the reader’s interest. For example, “The Search Engine” and “Lawyer’s League” have humorous and sarcastic characters, and do not deal with heavy subject matter. On the other hand, “The Life and Times of Estelle Walk Above” and “Flight Patterns” still have humorous moments, however, they deal with much more dramatic situations, largely September 11th. Thus, Alexie’s stories flow as one collection because of the common elements like humor and his straightforward characters; however, the reader does not lose interest moving from one story to the next because of the varied subject matter and variations in the character’s point of views. In the end, Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians gives insight to Native American life, and proves to be an enjoyable read. His characters are captivating, and his straightforward writing style keeps the reader interested and excited to see what will appear on the next page. Some stories are written in first person, and others are written in third person, which once again creates variation from one story to the next. The only element of Alexie’s collection that could be improved upon is the variation in setting. It is a little monotonous that almost every story took place in Seattle, Washington. However, this is just one minor glitch in an overall successful collection of stories.

Tracey

Checked out Ten Little Indians from the library on online recommendation (delphica) - it's a collection of short stories with Native American protagonists. IMHO, Alexie is a talented writer, using poetic turns of phrase as well as solid ideas. His characters cope with the demands of Native American heritage but the stories themselves deal with human experiences - losing one's parents, marital strife and the struggle for identity. It would not surprise me to see these stories appear in classroom curriculums sometime soon. There are some powerful images - one story tells about a biracial young man (Indian & Black) with political aspirations - he makes some poor choices (including an incident of violence) and the story ends with the haunting phrase: "Do you understand I have limited range of motion?" The story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" is heartbreaking in his hopeful hopelessness - a homeless man has 24 hours to raise a thousand dollars to buy back his grandmother's powwow regalia. Fair warning - basketball plays a role in several stories - knowing some basic terminology might be helpful. As I've said before, I like to explore new authors through reading short stories - and I have been rewarded with this collection. I plan on seeing what else Mr. Alexie has written and I hope it lives up to the promise of this collection. Recommended reading for anyone exploring cultures other than the DWM/WASP.

Katie

Two hours ago, I said I was going to bed, and then I thought, "I'll just read a little to calm myself before bed," which is what I usually do, but which was a poor decision in this instance. Now I have finished with the book, and I have wept all over my pillow, and now I can never read this book again for the first time and there are no pillow stores open at this hour, so fuck everything.I don't even know if I can talk about it. You read these stories and the tone is so unironic, so attached, so sincere, that it feels foreign. I love that about these stories. I love how they seem so transparent, so earnest, that you feel like they can't surprise you, and then, the next thing you know, you are hysterically sobbing in that embarrassing way, that can't-stop-need-a-paper-bag hyperventilation crying that you haven't done since you saw Titanic (in theaters) (with your parents) when you were like 14 and couldn't bear those old people letting the water rise around their bed. (An incident your parents still recall fondly, and like to reminisce about at family parties, or to strangers on the street, because you almost gave them a heart attack, first out of fear that you were having a heart attack, and then, once that subsided, out of laughter.)Basically, this book usurps I-don't-know-what as my Favorite Book Ever in the World. It is perfect. Everyone you know will like it. It will hurt you profoundly; also it will make you laugh. It will make you think about racism and colonialism and our broken country, then it will remind you of your humanity and affirm that profound kindness and beauty exist in the world. I would like to throw a parade for this book. We could make giant parade float balloons of the book. We could march down the street together, in front of the giant floats. We could all hold hands and carry a giant banner that reads, "Fuck everything that is not this book."

Clark

This book was kind of a mixed bag. There were a number of stories that didn't do much for me, but there were also a few of the most affecting stories I've read all year. "What You Pawn I Will Redeem", "Do You Know Where I Am?", "Can I Get A Witness?" and "Lawyer's League" were especially great. What struck me most was Alexie's ability to inhabit a number of different voices throughout the collection. I personally find it difficult to create a unique voice for different stories, but he seems to do it effortlessly. One thing that was odd for me was the nature of Alexie's humor. There were often sections of wit that I found really funny, while at other points I found it cringe-inducing. I wonder if he is a sort of idiot savant that hasn't quite figured out how to brandish his sense of humor. Certainly an interesting author to keep an eye on.

Deb

I picked this up at a favorite small indy bookstore to a) support them and b) to keep reading Alexie.The timing was interesting because as an older work (2003) there is one story in particular that references 9//11 ("Flight Patterns"). Good reading while having a lot of 10-year anniversary media filling the air. Noticeable was the fact that the protagonist had to run to a pay phone in an airport. It startled, because so many people had cell phones in 01. But not everyone, even "sophisticates" were holding out, not just Luddites. After 9/11 cell phone usage exploded. But there is more in the story than running to the phone. But running to the phone is much more energetic and cinematic that pulling it out of a pocket. I miss running to the phone scenes.I like Alexie's writing. How brash and honest he is. How full of humor and shame and compassion. Fearless and funny. And poignancy that is a gift in context of the other riches. A rich but small desert rather than an entire bakery of too-sweet. Great combination.Another favorite is "The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above" for the way it is presented as much as the story. I like the inserted lists, Q&A, "NOTICE O HISTORICAL REVISION" that add character and playfulness. Yup. I am an Alexie fan.

Michael

Just read it. This is my favorite work by Sherman Alexie. He is a master of short story, and he writes about the topic he knows best: Northwest Indians living in poverty. Basketball finds its way into many stories; Alexie is obviously an avid enthusiast. He writes from the heart. What a joy to read.

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