Ten Little Indians: Stories

ISBN: 009946456X
ISBN 13: 9780099464563
By: Sherman Alexie

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About this book

Offers eleven stories about Native Americans who, like all Americans, find themselves at personal and cultural crossroads, faced with heartrending, tragic, sometimes wondrous moments of being that test their loyalties, their capacities, and their notions of who they are and whom they love.

Reader's Thoughts


This is the type of literary "super-realistic-warts-and-all" style that I don't really like. But this was for a more-important-than-average book group, so I made a greater-than-average effort to finish. I didn't like the casual (and very crass) sexuality thrown in at the beginning for no real reason, but Alexie either put it in the earlier stories to weed out the undedicated, or I got used to it. However, I liked a few of the stories, and I found some lines that really resonated with me: From Flight Patterns "He invested much of his money in socially responsible funds. Imagine that! Imagine choosing to trust your money with companies that supposedly made their millions through ethical means. Imagine the breathtaking privilege of such a choice."And from The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above "I don't understand her, not then or now. She's a contradiction. She has always contained multitudes."

Sucia Dhillon

One of my favorite collections of short stories. I loved how Alexie reeled me in and had me share in his human experience. My favorite was the old basketball player one (forgot the official title). A close runner up was the first one, about the girl who tracks down the guy who wrote the Indian poems. I loved how this revealed that sensation we all get when we think we've got the answer, and then realize that it was a farce, or just a smoke screen, and then all we have left is ourselves.

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.


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.


These short stories were packed. There were some marvelous insights about gender and identity. I don't usually read short stories, but I have been a fan of Mr. Alexie for a long time, and I was reminded of him when he was interviewed by Stephen Colbert recently. The next day I found a copy of this hard cover remaindered and decided to read it. I bought his young adult novel for my son as a present, and I might read that next.http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colb...


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.

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)


This must have been an EXCELLENT book. I am not a fan of short stories, but I read and enjoyed them all. I think my favorite was the one with Corliss and the poetry. This was one of the "everybody reads" selections for 2013 for the Multnomah County Library. https://multcolib.org/everybody-reads

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.

Anne Monfort

Alexie, Sherman. Ten Little Indians: Stories. New York: Grove, 2003. Print.Ten Indians, Nine Stories, and Two Thumbs Way UpTen Little Indians by Sherman Alexie consists of nine different short stories. While each story exists independently of the others, all of them have main characters that are members of the Spokane Indian tribe. The stories deal with very heavy subjects from homelessness to suicide bombers to the events of September eleventh. There is one particularly controversial story that has the main character justifying the events of September eleventh. “‘You know,’ she said, ‘I don’t think everybody who died in the towers was innocent.’ ‘Who are you?’ he asked. ‘Osama’s press agent?’” (Alexie 89). One major theme that is pervasive throughout every story is the identity crisis that every American Indian struggles with. This conflict comes from attempting to combine and reconcile tribal ideals with modern living; historic perspectives with modern thinking and political correctness. Alexie does a phenomenal job of capturing the mindset of his characters in a realistic and humorous way. “If white folks assumed she was serene and spiritual and wise simply because she was Indian, and thought she was special based on those mistaken assumptions, then Corliss saw no reason to contradict them” (Alexie 11). The thoughts and feelings are very normal and average but always colored with the fact that the character is an Indian. The stories expose racisms and preconceived notions that people have about Indians. “Harlan Atwater was making fun of being Indian, of the essential sadness of being Indian, and so maybe he was saying Indians aren’t sad at all. Maybe Indians are just big-footed hitchhikers eager to tell a joke” (Alexie 7). Alexie writes as an Indian about other Indians. His stories are bright and alive and captivating. His writing is passionate and powerful and expresses all the pain and joy of a tribe of people. But rather than being pitiable and pathetic, it is very funny and relatable. Not that the circumstances in the stories are so common but his style of writing is such that you can understand exactly what the characters are going through even if you never have had the experience. The characters are so wonderfully developed, clever and crazy that they leap off the page and you feel like you’ve known them for years. The one trait that every character in every story has is a powerful sense of humor that is present even in the direst of circumstances. Alexie uses his characters to laugh at himself, at all the Indians and at all the white people that racially profile them. “‘For the rest of your academic life,’ she’d told him on his first day of kindergarten, ‘whenever any teacher tells you that Columbus discovered America, I want you to run up to him or her, jump on his or her back, and scream, ‘I discover you!’” (Alexie 219). He does not tread lightly or attempt to spare any feelings but is blatantly honest and even silly about sex, alcohol, sickness, death, and the treatment of Indians. And, that is what makes all the stories and this whole book so magical.


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.


Originally posted at http://olduvaireads.wordpress.com/201...Sometimes you chance upon books by fate, others by the placement of library shelves.My most often frequented shelves in the library, other than the children’s section, are the Hold shelves. I do a lot of book holds, which can be tricky as the library only allows TEN HOLDS! And it’s an Argh ARGH situation as I request books for myself and the more popular picture books for the kids.But because the Holds shelves are located perpendicular to the ‘A’s and ‘B’s of the adult fiction shelves, I tend to scan those as I walk past. And this time, Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians called out to me. I’m not sure why. It’s cover art isn’t exactly eye-catching. But I pulled it off the shelf anyway and opened the cover.And there I saw a paperclipped note from Hilton Singapore. And I knew I was meant to borrow this book! Haha!Alexie sure knew how to suck this reader into the first story, with a bookish college student named Corliss. She’s a reader, a lover of books. “In the Washington State University library, her version of Sherwood Forest, Corliss walked the poetry stacks. She endured a contentious and passionate relationship with this library. The huge number of books confirmed how much magic she’d been denied for most of her life, and now she hungrily wanted to read every book on every shelf. An impossible task, to be sure, Herculean in its exaggeration, but Corliss wanted to read herself to death. She wanted to be buried in a coffin filled with used paperbacks.”Sometimes when writers do this I want to yell, hey that’s cheating! How could you throw in a bookish book lover knowing that a bookish book lover would be reading this too? That just means that I cannot help but fall for this story. How could I not want to befriend, to hug a character who thinks such thoughts: Corliss wondered what happens to a book that sits unread on a library shelf for thirty years. Can a book rightfully be called a book if it never gets read? If a tree falls in a forest and gets pulped to make paper for a book that never gets read, but there’s nobody there to read it, does it make a sound?And this: Corliss had never once considered the fate of library books. She’d never wondered how many books go unread. She loved books. How could she not worry about the unread? She felt like a disorganized scholar, an inconsiderate lover, an abusive mother, and a cowardly soldier.Corliss is Spokane Indian and she comes across a book of poems written by a Spokane, someone she had never heard of and since “only three thousand other Spokanes of various Spokane-ness existed in the whole world” she didn’t understand how she had never heard of this fellow poetry-loving Spokane.And she is determined to track him down. It’s a bit tricky because he doesn’t want to be found.In another story, Do You Know Where I Am?, Alexie writes of a couple who have been together since college. “We laughed and kissed and made love and read books in bed. We read through years of books, decades of books. There were never enough books for us. Read, partially read, and unread, our books filled the house, stacked on shelves and counters, piled into corners and closets. Our marriage became an eccentric and disorganised library. Whitman in the pantry! The Bronte sisters in the television room! Hardy on the front porch! Dickinson in the laundry room! We kept a battered copy of Native Son in the downstairs bathroom so our guests would have something valuable to read!”Of course it’s not about their reading habits, not at all. But this passage was too cute. And the story was just so very sweet.The other stories in Ten Little Indians aren’t really sweet but they were mostly good reads.

Vince Darcangelo

http://archive.boulderweekly.com/0724...This review originally appeared in the BOULDER WEEKLYThe business of being humanSherman Alexie emphasizes the real and universal in the human experienceby Vince Darcangelo- - - - - - - - - - - - Sherman Alexie is a human being. He writes stories about human beings and their trials and triumphs. And he is good at what he does–so good, in fact, that he has transcended the label of being a Native American author. Quite simply, he is an author."Because of my relative fame and fortune, I’ve transcended all sorts of racial and racist labels," says Alexie. "It’s interesting how green can change your color."But the 36-year-old Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian certainly does not shy away from his history. With books like The Lone Ranger and Tanto Fistfight in Heaven, The Toughest Indian in the World, Indian Killer, Reservation Blues and his newest short story collection Ten Little Indians, Alexie has become the most recognizable voice in Native American literature today.While Alexie is an award-winning author, poet and filmmaker (Smoke Signals and The Business of Fancydancing), perhaps his greatest gift is the ability to create characters so deep that they defy the limitations of race, gender and other stereotypes. This is no more evident than in the short story "Can I Get a Witness?" from Ten Little Indians–the tale of a woman who survives a terrorist bombing in Seattle. "Can I Get a Witness?" is inspired by the events of 9/11, and–unlike his contemporaries and their blind, lockstep patriotism–Alexie has the guts to challenge the uniform apotheosis of the casualties of the attack."I remember the vocabulary, the rhetoric, was always about the ‘innocent victims.’ The heroes and innocent victims. And I kept thinking, ‘It’s lawyers and stock brokers. You’re telling me there’s not one complete and total asshole among them?’" says Alexie. "Nobody even talked about individuals and the idea of individual sin. There was somebody in there cheating on his wife. There was somebody in there beating on his kids. There was somebody in there embezzling. Right away, they became metaphors and symbols. And the best of the people in the buildings were grouped in with the worst."The reality of those people is much more complicated and magical and painful than the way we look at it. Canonizing people also dehumanizes them," he continues. "So I just got really angry with the rhetoric that day. And I knew it was being used, and would be used, to justify all sorts of violence on both sides."Especially disconcerting to the author is how the topic has become off-limits, making "Can I Get a Witness?" all the more poignant and controversial. "Our stand-up comedians don’t even joke about it much," says Alexie, a one-time stand-up comedian himself. "And if our stand-up comedians aren’t doing it, then we’re really in trouble. If Chris Rock can’t be profane about 9/11, then what’s the point? That’s the best thing about this country: the celebration of our blasphemy."But Ten Little Indians is not all politics and blasphemy. Like all of Alexie’s books, his characters are complex studies of imperfect humans and their daily struggles. At the heart of "Can I Get a Witness?" is a discontented wife and mother who would have happily perished in the bombing and uses it as an opportunity to disappear.The directionless, spinning-wheels nature of the protagonist is also prevalent in the nine other stories in Ten Little Indians. The common thread connecting the stories is the product of Alexie’s prolific writing style. "I write so quickly and so obsessively–the stories are written in a very small time period–that most of my collections tend to have similar themes and similar ambitions," says Alexie. "This book is about white-collar Indians. I didn’t know what form that would take when I started the stories, but I knew it was going to be about successful Indians who were good at their jobs but clumsy at love."Alexie’s quick-witted ferocity gives his work a biting desperation that he credits to his poetry background. "I think short stories are more related to the poetry form. I’m a natural short story writer and a reluctant novelist," he says. "I think it really is the quick in and out, the passion of it. I’m a sprinter, not a marathon runner."My short stories, in some sense, have always had very strong narratives, so I think that’s probably why I work better in the short stories," he continues. "It’s because I’m a poet. Short stories are like very long poems. At least mine are, I hope."Alexie is an accomplished poet with eight collections in his catalogue–one of which, The Business of Fancydancing (a mix of stories and poems), was made into a film in 2002 and marked Alexie’s directorial debut. (Fancydancing made its first rounds locally at the Boulder Gay and Lesbian Film Festival last year, and was released on DVD on July 8.) Alexie was also the World Heavyweight Poetry Bout Champion from 1998-2001, before hanging up the gloves as the event’s first and only four-time champion.Despite his forays into directing, lecturing, stand-up comedy and poetry slams, Alexie is still a writer at heart. "Sitting at my computer writing at two in the morning: That’s the best part of it," he says of his various artistic pursuits.Even though Ten Little Indians is barely two months old, Alexie is already engrossed in his next, and very personal, project. "I’m working on a memoir about my grandfather who died in World War II on Okinowa, about him and my father. It’s called Inventing my Grandfather," he says. "It’s about philosophy and the idea of what war and warriors mean to Indian men. And how do you go from grandfather the war hero–he won 12 medals–to commie, pinko pacifist grandson."It’s a lot of research," he continues. "I’ve never had to do so much research for a book."The research has already paid personal dividends, resulting in a touching appearance on Oprah. "I’m part of an exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, and it focuses on my grandfather and on my effort to get the medals reissued," he says. "That was supposed to have taken years, but on the Oprah show in January, Oprah had arranged for the medals to be delivered to me by a brigadier general. So, I was able to get the medals and give them to my father."Always the entertainer, Alexie’s upcoming appearance at the Boulder Book Store promises to deliver what fans have come to expect from the charismatic speaker–sidesplitting social commentary, funny anecdotes, great fiction, moving poetry and the opportunity to catch one of the greatest American writers in their prime."I’ll read a story, I’ll answer questions, I’ll be funny," says Alexie of the performance.More than that, he’ll be human–and in so doing will help all in attendance be more so themselves.


This book is a delightful collection of short stories by Sherman Alexie. In each story we experience the pain and joy of being human but Alexie writes from the perspective of Spokane Indians. Most of the stories are set in Seattle, so urban Indians--from the homeless to the well-off. The picture of the author on the back of the book shows him laughing joyously. His stories take us from joy to heart-break, from wisdom to blindness, from giddy first-love to the last moments of a life-time love. My two favorite stories were The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above and Flight Patterns. In Flight Patterns, a middle-class Indian hears the story of a black Ethiopian Moslem immigrant. There are points that they can identify with each other and places were the Native American can appreciate what he has. This book touched my heart strings and made me laugh out loud.


This book made me laugh and then broke my heart, over and over with each story, and not necessarily in that order.I first picked up this book when it first came out, about 10 years ago. I thought it was fine, but I didn't really "get" it. On this reading, I felt like my heart had a direct line to the text and all its sorrow and joy. I think this is because these stories are about joy and loss, the holes we allow into our lives when we fall down. At 20 years old, what did I know about love and joy and getting kicked on my ass? Answer: not nearly as much as I know at 30. And I'll be revisiting this book again and again.If you like sterile stories with sweet conclusions, this will not be the book for you. This is a book that asks questions it cannot answer- about race, about love, about marriage, about family. The characters are challenged and challenging. If you don't laugh and cry, you probably aren't human.

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