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The Lone Ranger and the Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

Each of the twenty-two stories in Sherman Alexie's collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven examines the modem problems and contradictions of reservation life. Most of the stories are situated on the Spokane Indian Reservation, which Alexie's lyrical voice describes through stories that examine not only the real problems of alcoholism or unemployment but also happier moments: romance, basketball, and dancing. Alexie's voice is strongest when the real problems collide with the lighter moments - in these instances his prose is brutally honest and depicts the horrible strains of poverty, alcoholism, and violence - but also shows the flip side: the tribe continues to exist in its language, myth, and culture (Alexie's own stories) even in the face of what at times seem like insurmountable odds.

The collection is loosely linked through Alexie's narrative voice, a voice that resonates whether operating in first or third person with a passion that sees the irony in the flower power movement's co-opting of mostly American Indian values ("Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play |The Star-Spangled Banner' at Woodstock") and captures the personal and national feelings of alienation American Indians face as their numbers dwindle, but also the sense of duty and honor they hold for one another ("This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"). Alexie's remarkable collection deserves a wide audience because of his original narrative voice, which mixes mythmaking with lyrical prose and captures the nation-within-a-nation status of American Indians and the contradictions such a status produces, and more importantly, the survival of a people through mythmaking rooted in their everyday lives.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Schneider, Brian
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Words:271
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