The Business of Fancydancing

ISBN: 0914610007
ISBN 13: 9780914610007
By: Sherman Alexie

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About this book

Poetry. Fiction. Published in 1992, well before Sherman Alexie became well-known as the screenwriter for the film SMOKE SIGNALS, THE BUSINESS OF FANCYDANCING has now been turned into a film with none other than Alexie himself in his directorial debut. The screenplay for the movie, which recently won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, is loosly adapted from this book. Many film-goers will want to visit or revisit the elegaic poems and stories that set the tone for the film itself. "In an age when many 'Native American' writers publish books that prove their ignorance of the real Indian world, Sherman Alexie paints painfully honest visions of our beautiful and brutal lives"--Adrian C. Louis.

Reader's Thoughts


This was Alexie's first book. It contains poems and short stories. His stories make me laugh and cry. His writing is emotionally raw and makes me feel.


A short book full of poems and stories centered on modern life around the reservation. There are times when the writing is deep and emotional, times when it is laid back and thoughtful and times when the story is only that; a story told to those who are listening. It is all very modern-creative type writing with a deeper meaning settled somewhere within, but it is all so beautifully done that you might just find yourself revisiting the book again and again. You might even have a different experience each time you do, but it will always be a wonderful journey.

Eirian Houpe

Poems and Stories to Connect with the SoulIt is hard to know where to begin in a review of this collection of stories and poems evocative of the life and culture of the Native American people in today's society; life on the reservation, simply to say that the writing is fantastic... excellent and opens up your heart and soul to the myriad emotions held up like a mirror, right in your face.The language used is both poetic and earthy, uncomfortable at times, and yet makes you listen, draws you in and connects with you on a level that is deeply emotional, almost visceral and presents the subjects of his writing in a way that we cannot ignore or gloss over. Excellent writing, both in the stories and poems leaves us thinking deeply on all that we have read, and heard.

Ryan Dunk

I wonder if it's my inexperience with verse or my understanding and appreciation for Alexie's later work that have the stronger effect on my perception of this collection. Overall, I felt like the poems were overwrought and even perhaps a bit trite. Alexie usually does a great job of balancing the serious themes of his work with moments of humor. This has the effect, at least to me, of making his more serious moments that much more powerful, and giving a more realistic portrayal of contemporary Indian life, that of humor covering moments of sadness. This collection felt much more loose, for lack of a better term, but I think it suffered because of that. I would recommend The Toughest Indian in the World or basically any of Alexie's novels or short story collections (as I have read all but one) over this.Edit: If I may speak perfectly honestly, I think the majority of positive reviews are from white people who have this sort of reverential view of native americans, which this book certainly is in line with, if not endorses. Bettys and Veronicas, if you've read Reservation Blues. This work feels more pitiful than honest in many places.


I really enjoyed reading these short stories and poems that reveal the evolution of Sherman Alexie's work. They are a bit darker and some are very disturbing, but you get your first introduction to some of his best characters. I want to see the movie that is loosely based on this book.

Cori Selby



3.5 stars!The Business of Fancydancing" is another collection of some great short stories and mostly poetry by a brilliant writer.Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite authors but this book did not move me the way all of his other works did. Typically, I find myself re-reading pages of his novels because his descriptions remind me of a sucker punch-hard hitting and void of warning; not this time.


When I read this book, the first thought was, huh, I didn't know you can do that with poetry. I really enjoyed the varied types of poems, the prose pieces and the complex picture he presented of life on a reservation.


His first book, the most raw, the least structurally organized, and in some ways the most powerful. It's almost like, lacking the formal tools, he writes with the only thing he knows—unfiltered emotion. Mostly poems in this book. Just five stories, most very short; you can see that he is just starting to move from poems to prose narratives.


wow wow wow6 star book.this book of short stories and poems needs to be read in order, they build upon each other. too many favourites to list, such a gifted writer.


Sherman Alexie has a way with words, a way to bend them to be so beautiful and so heartbreaking, so real. I love his poetry just like I love Flannery O'Connor's short stories (I just finished reading Everything That Rises Must Converge as well) - they are both comfortingly predictable writers. And Alexie is not consistent in a boring way. His stories are always new but recall upon the same dreams and characters, so that you feel you can share in his world, almost as if you and he are old friends who understand each other's references and inside jokes. In this way he spins a web, adding layer upon layer to his world of sadness and hopelessness, yet always tinged with a glimmer of life and love and beauty.

Katie Witham

Sherman Alexie can do no wrong, in my opinion. Since his work is so poetic in general, it was nice to read a collection dedicated completely to poetry and short fiction.


It was really pretty heartbreaking. The poetry is pretty free-form, and the language is not usually elegant, but the picture is created and the feelings are felt.


Alexie is a great author who rights from the heart. Very raw. He has a way of describing circumstances and feelings through these different poems and short stories that makes me hurt for the Native Americans who live on reservations. Althouh the book has some language, I could see using it in class as an example for writing poems without punctuation, possibly.


Sherman Alexie is a talented writer who has a lot to teach non-Indians about Indians and also to point out things to Indians about themselves. Oh,and all of us humans can reflect on the trials of human nature here,too.

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