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


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.


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.


I'm doing some studies on Native American cultures, and this was an interesting compilation of Alexie's short stories and poems to kick it off. It was a very moving,, at times painful, and thought-provoking read.

Mary Helene

Painful - but insightful. I've read his later books (most recently The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, which is marvelously accessible to all kinds of readers,) and his humor and hope sustain one through the pain. This is his first book, and the pain is more raw, but the humor is still there. I am wondering if I might have the courage to look at despair as he does. p.s. I write my review before reading other reviews - and then I go on to avidly read what others think. If you do that, too, note all the times "raw" and "hope" are used. Not so many noted the humor; didn't others think it was hysterically funny?


Humorous, moving, and insightful, this collection of poems and short stories is Alexie first book EVER. The content is focused more on the reservation and "Indian-ness" than in his later works, which focus more on relationships. Reoccurring images include house fires, pow wows, and fancydancing. It was fun to read this book to see where Alexie began.

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.


Where does a modern Indian belong in the world? What is reservation life like. What is the nature and purpose of storytelling? Hope overcomes crushing adversity.p. 243 "You can do it..."p. 231 "I suppose it had something to do with confidence...the power of expectation."


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.


Though this is pretty early on for Alexie, this has some really good stuff in it. It may not hit the same heights as some of his later writing, but you can see in it where he is going to go later. And, as with some of his other collections, I like getting some of his poetry mixed in with some of his prose. I'm less likely to pick up a book of pure poetry and this way I still get to see some of Alexie's poetry. All in all, this is a good collection and I'm glad I read it.


It's clear to see from Alexie's first book how he was soon going to become a powerful voice in American literature. He is always true to himself and true to the vision and experience of American Indians in modern society. This book of poems and short stories is a great introduction to his work.

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.


Sherman Alexie's first book is a little too esoteric for me. I have the same problems with it that I have with some of the stories in his other books, but as always, he's at the very least extremely engaging. Only read this if you are a fan, and I'd most definitely recommend that you read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Toughest Indian in the World (which contains my favorite story of his, "Dear John Wayne").


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pretty much perfect...moments of brilliant vision, and comic phrasing of tragic stuff, made me think more about the twisted past and present of this country, american indians, reservations, and me--but I loved Flight and Absolutely True Diary a million times more, for my star system to mean anything I guess have to go with three stars for this one. ...partly that has to do with the printing though--I'm not down with gritty independent poetry private-publishing books, with tweaked margins, to cram as much print on a page as possible...they make me feel worn out. But it doesn't mean I love you any less, Sherman, if you're reading--come over to my house for dinner!


Having worked with Native Americans for many years, I was engrossed in the attention to detail that Sherman Alexie gives in his poems and short stories of reservation life. This book and his others are well worth reading.

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