The life of Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire irrevocably changes when blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on his reservation and ...Show synopsisThe life of Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire irrevocably changes when blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on his reservation and passes the misfit storyteller his enchanted guitar. Inspired by this gift, Thomas forms Coyote Springs, an all-Indian Catholic band who find themselves on a magical tour that leads from reservation bars to Seattle and New York--and deep within their own souls.Hide synopsis
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Sherman Alexie delights in magical realism. Burning guitars, old ageless women who teach rock stars their musical craft at the top of her mountain, and tangible shadows that take the shape of horses are just a few manifestations of the mechanism by which Alexie conveys what it is to be an Indian in modern America. He tells his story of an all-Indian blues band with humorous anger, so while the read is enjoyable, you come away with a sadness in your gut. The characters face down the burdens of their childhood, the burdens of who they are in the present, and the burdens of what they desperately want for their future.
Most of all, the novel shines a glaring light on the relationship between white America and the America on the reservation. It isn't pretty. Maybe a lot has changed, but simultaneously nothing has.
Alexie's prose is extremely readable without ever being facile. It slides through your consciousness but instead of coming out the other end, it sticks in there somewhere, and you realize you've been reading something pretty important. What a great writer.
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