The Lone Ranger and spaghetti Westemsjust like other American kids. ‘These are the images I grew up with.‘ he says. ‘But in some sense lndians are as guilty of romanticising our past as anybody is. We're looking for a home which didn't really exist. It's the whole stereotypical image of the Wild West, you know? But life was hard for lndians, certainly the nomadic life lndians lived 200 hundred years ago. i
D Ith don‘t think we realise how hard it was. Certainly a lot simpler in light of how much pain and sorrow we
Beatrice COIin talks to Sherman - ' ' g I have to go through now, we forget there was also
. ‘ ‘ ‘ . ’ ,. " ., ', ., if . "'~ pain and sorrow back then too.‘ AleXle’ Whose debUt Short-Story These tales positively ache. But is there any hope? collection explores the bittersweet ‘The bleakness is constantly compounded by the fact . , ~ , , ° that there’s always a TV on and you et to see the Icallty Of Csn‘nempordry thlve rest of the US, and there's, you know? 92 different Amerlcan lllC. kinds of butter.‘ he says. ‘But there‘s a strong sense ofgallows humour amongst lndians which is in my book and in my own life. We still have our culture, the world. At the end of the l9th century, the Plains our language. our singing, our dancing, and our Pow tribes joined a movement known as the Ghost Dance. - - - _ Wows, which are very wonderful and energising.’ believing that if they performed certain rites the Sherman Alexie Alexie's powerful. intensely personal work arn'ves
Native Americans dance when they want to change
buffalo would retum. white men would go back to trying to reconcile the present with the past, at a time when the work of previously unheard Europe and their former greatness would be restored. themselves with others, and to come to terms with minority voices is increasingly celebrated and in I890. however. American troops killed the Sioux the distance travelled away from their traditions and inﬂuential. ln literary terms. he is descended directly chief Sitting Bull at the battle of Wounded Knee from their souls. Basketball has become a warrior from writers such as Toni Morrison. His style, Creek and the Plains lndians were settled in substitute; one character re-creates a teepee in a however. is very different. ‘l think i was inﬂuenced reservations. studio apartment by rounding the Comers with plaster not by how people wrote but what they wrote about.‘ Those same reservations. l()() years later. provide and painting a black circle on the floor; another ﬂies he explains. ‘l started seeing writers writing who had the setting for Sherman Alexie's book of linked short fora few seconds like an eagle before plummeting to less power in society and their stories were just as stories The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in the ground and breaking his arm in two places. valid as those of the people in power. The stories in Heaven. There is still a lot of dancing. But there‘s ‘Yeah. I feel displaced and i feel very angry and my book speak as ifthe reservation itself was the alSO a lot of drinking. fucking. ﬁghting and laughing. bitter at times.’ says Alexie. ‘Our Native American voice. as if the place itself was the voice. and so the A vibrant account of the 20th century where myth lives are equal parts magic and loss. But everyone narrative comes from a lot ofdifferent angles.‘ and harsh reality clash. it comes over like Bukowski can identify with that sense ofdisplacement. We're This multifaceted approach results in a lyrical. with braids. as Alexie offers a close-up of an all looking for home.‘ honest and funny book, which captivates with its existence which reeks of vodka. poverty. frustration Sherman Alexie still lives on a reservation in sheer compassion. The Lone Ranger and Tonto and racism but. at the same time. crackles with Spokane. Living conditions on many reservations are Fistflght in Heaven is a dance made of words. vitality. humour and passion. atrocious and many children still develop scurvy and The Lone Ranger and 'l‘mzm l’l'srﬁght in Heaven is in each story. the characters search for their identity. catch smallpox. Nevertheless. Alexie was reared on i published by Seeker & Warburg at £9.99.
_ empty fast-food carton, but Bloom but they happen when people are discovered she’d tapped into a deep eating and cooking and doing laundry creative well she never even knew and running errands, figuring out what
ew was there. ‘I just had this impulse to shirt to wear.’ . start putting down words, painting Bloom is motivated to write primarily,
‘In the middle of the euloer at In! pictures with words,’ she says. ‘I’m she says. by her interest in character.
mother’s boring and heartbreaking sure the impulse had its roots, but it in what makes people tick, which she
funeral. I began to think allot" calling showed up pretty suddenly. Though sees as the main link or overlap
0" theoweddlﬂg- August 21 fl" "0‘ when all this stuff started coming out, between her writing and her therapy
899'" lllte a 905“l date, 50h" W600“ it felt like it had just been sitting work. Her professional expertise
Illtl not 589'“ “lie a 90"“ Person '0 there waiting.’ shows in the empathy with which she
malty. and IFOUltln’l $89 "1158" l" "'9 Bloom’s writing occupies similar traces the emotional pathways
long white srlk gown Mrs Wescott had territory to that dominated by Alice followed by unremarkable, basically
offered me-’ A textboo" eXamPle 0' Munro - ordinary people’s decent people faced with painful
how to start a short story: immediate engagement, immediate tension, scene-setting, surprise, all in two assured, straightforward sentences.
relationships, their family lives, the dilemmas and complex choices - ties that bind adulthood to childhood - people in the process of figuring out though with a touch more oi the cool, what they feel about a situation, I ironic acerbity displayed by younger suggest. ‘I think it's not so much that
The! 098" a MW’BHWS We calle _ writers like lorrie Moore. The old you have to figure it out,’ she says, .l°"° '5 "P‘ a P“ r "m" “as '“V "'3' Am Bloom: 'I'- aim: interested in the wars, faithfuls, sex and death, loom large, ‘but that you have to be willing to '"lmducm" ‘0 “‘9 work 0‘ “9" PM" “"99" l“ m" “M M “m' but in the manner suggested by the improvise long enough to find out
c°""°°"°“t “’"m' “my Bum“! "he" ' By profession, the 40-year-old Bloom two lines quoted above - in a fully- what you feel. I’m always interested in cam “m,” ll i" °'"’ "l m 3"“"3' is a psychotherapist, who had never fleshed, convincingly messy, mundane the ways people struggle with this 393‘ Amema" 5mm 5‘0"“ WW“ 3 entertained any thought of writing and conflict-ridden context, as Bloom stuff - struggle to know what they °°"P'° 0' "3'3 39°! and "'9’ '9 "0" until one day five years ago, when an deftly patterns the domestic and the want, to do the right thing but also to '0 b9 “WM 0" "‘9 "'3‘ 939° 0' h" idea for a murder mystery materialised cataclysmic so that each illuminates do the thing that’s true to what they “but commons c°m° 1° M9: "Will in her head while she was out in her the other. ‘I think that’s lust how I see feel, and how hard it is for people to an! '0'" 0' 3'10" Smiles Should 3”" car. It never got much further than an life,’ she says. ‘These enonnous, let themselves know.’ (Suzanne
0|" and 09m"- outllne scribbled on the back of an monumental, pivotal events happen, Williams)
The List l 1—24 March 1994 59