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.


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.


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.


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.


Short stories and short poems about a way of life that I know very little about. "Fancydancing" seemed to just scratch the surface, unlike the story of his that I heard on Selected Shorts, "Breaking and Entering." "Fancydancing" is an earlier work so the difference in depth between those stories and "Breaking and Entering" is very encouraging. I enjoyed Alexie's authorial voice and would like to read more of his work.

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 somehow love everything sherman alexie writes, even when i don't fully understand it. there's just something about the moods his words evoke. there was a lot of poetry in this collection, which i wasn't expecting. but still, enjoyed it all.


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.


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").


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.

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?

Cori Selby



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.


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.


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