Friday, June 10, 2011

Reservation Blues

First, a blatant bit of self-promotion. The theme for the Mission Branch Library's "It's Winter Somewhere" book club is literary award winning fiction. We enjoy spirited discussions and mixed reviews on winners of the Pulitzer, Booker, National Book Award and others. Even if the book is not universally embraced, most often we all agree on the beauty of the language or the theme's poignancy. But, while worth the effort, many award winners can be challenging reads requiring great stamina and concentration. 

Which is why we all enjoyed Sherman Alexie's novel Reservation Blues, which contains the required amount of beauty and poignancy in a rollicking read. Much of the story happens in the Spokane Reservation starting when Thomas Builds-the-Fire stops at the Crossroads to pick up blues musician Robert Johnson. Looking to reclaim his soul and scarred fingers, Johnson leaves his guitar in Thomas' truck.  The guitar, not content taking a back seat, strums its siren song forcing Thomas to form a band with Victor and Junior who are both friends and foes. These guys rock and the talented guitar even lands them a recording session in New York where, confronted by their demons, they self-destruct.

Multiple award winner Alexie tackles the challenges and situations of reservation life with magic and vigor, weaving historic fact with fantasy. His observations on our cultural differences and the messages reservation children are fed, along with their government-issued peanut butter, are laugh out loud funny and tragic.

Reservation Blues is based on characters from Alexie's short collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven as is the movie Smoke Signals.

Find Sherman Alexie and other award winning books at your Library.

Vicki Ann

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