First Indian on the Moon

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In this stunningly detailed collection of poetry, Sherman Alexie once again serves up a sardonic lyrical snack.



Moving flawlessly between prose and poetry, despair and humor, from the bar to the HUD house to the Laundromat, Sherman Alexie once again serves up a sardonic lyrical snack, in this stunningly detailed collection of poetry.

The first section is “Influences,” where Alexie shares snippets of his life’s people, places and events—all sometimes under the influence. “Year of the Indian” is a particularly hilarious and memorable sampling from Alexie’s calendar that will keep you laughing—even after, depending on who you are, you realize the joke’s on you.

In “A Reservation Table of the Elements,” the second section, Alexie breaks down the ingredients in his family cookbook. He reflects on the death of his sister, who died in a house fire, in “Genetics.” In addition to fire, elements in the “Reservation Table” include fry bread, coffee, salmon and alcohol.

Alexie mourns a lost love in the darkly humorous third section, “Tiny Treaties,” and expands his memories of loving a white woman to a discussion on the collected history of the United States. Again in “The Native American Broadcasting System” section, the author unpacks U.S. history from a Native point of view.

“All I Wanted To Do Was Dance,” the final section, is about dreams:  realized and unrealized, literal and metaphorical. In “Billy Jack,” Alexie writes: “I think / all Indians saw your movies, wanted you / to be real, wanted you to rise / and save the Indians from their sins.” And in the poem “Song,” Alexie sees future generations who will “…learn how / to dance a new dance / with the rhythm / only Indians possess…”

Sherman Alexie is a preeminent Native American poet, novelist, performer and filmmaker. A Spokane/ Coeur d’Alene tribal member, Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. In his short-story and poetry collections, Alexie illuminates the despair, poverty and alcoholism that often shape the lives of Native Americans living on reservations. Alexie has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2009 Mason Award, the 2008 Stranger Genius Award, a Pushcart Prize, the PEN / Malamud Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, and numerous honorary degrees.
Chiara says…

Two very entertained, red thumbs up.

One of my favorite moments is this one from “A Twelve-Step Treatment Program:”

“My advisors sent me this letter advising me to discard my cultural baggage and concentrate on the future. I wrote back advising them that maybe all of us Indians don’t drink so much because we’re Indian. Maybe we drink so much because all of you are so white.” (33)

 

Author: Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene)

Binding Availability: Paperback or Hardcover

Published: 1993

Tribes/Ethnic Groups: Spokane, Coeur d'Alene