Sherman Alexie Short Fiction Analysis
According to Sherman Alexie in an interview with CINEASTE, the five major influences on his writing are “my father, for his nontraditional Indian stories, my grandmother for her traditional Indian stories, Stephen King, John Steinbeck, and The Brady Bunch.” It is no wonder then that Alexie’s work, in particular the short stories in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, has been described by American Indian Quarterly as resembling a “casebook of postmodernist theory” that revels in such things as irony, parody of traditions, and the mingling of popular and native cultures. The result is a body of work that allows Alexie to challenge and subvert the stereotypes of Native Americans seen in the mass media (the warrior, the shaman, the drunk) and explore what it means to be a contemporary Native American.
In commenting on Native American poets and writers, writers such as Leslie Marmon Silko describe how Native American artists often create their strongest work when they write from a position of social responsibility. In Alexie’s case, his work is often designed to effect change by exposing other Indians and whites to the harsh realities of reservation life. In Alexie’s early work—work influenced by his own alcoholism and father’s abandonment (as seen in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven)—he uses the Spokane Indian community as a backdrop for his characters, who often suffer...
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