Review of Works by Sherman Alexie
Ryan Lewis Mrs. Mattie Quesenberry-Smith English 112 12/5/12 A man whose work that draws almost identically from his own life experiences is a man who is not afraid of truth. He is not afraid to speak his mind. He is a man without care for consequence or reaction. A man whose own life as a Native American growing up on a reservation dissatisfied him to the point of leaving to pursue a better life. The man being spoken of goes by the name of Sherman Alexie. And he is not afraid to share his experiences with the people. Sherman Alexie’s work is like a straight shot into the mind of a Spokane Indian.
Probing every corner of the conscious and bringing forth the thoughts and opinions of his people. Alexie projects through his work the trials and tribulations of life as a Native American in a nation dominated by European Americans. Alexie’s Flight Patterns follows William, a Spokane Indian, who is a businessman who is plagued by nightmares of his wife and children being murdered by someone while he is away on business trips. William explains to his cab driver, Fekadu, that he is afraid to board an airplane with Muslims which he refers to as “brown men. His cab driver then explains to William that he used to be a terrorist before fleeing his country. Fekadu explains further that he was a pilot for his former countries army and was forced by his leader to kill his own people. Refusing to do so, Fekadu fled his country and sought refuge in the United States. He goes on to say that he can never return to his homeland for fear he and his family would be killed. Perhaps Alexie is trying to provide a gateway into his own thoughts on terrorism having shown the reader his changing opinion what a real terrorist is.
Having written Flight Patterns in a post 9/11 world perhaps Alexie is trying to convey to the reader that not all terrorists are the same. That there is a possibility that they are simply doing what they have been ordered to do to save their families and themselves. Another example of Sherman Alexie’s writing in relation to his own personal experiences is in his short story The Search Engine where a young Washington State University English major named Corliss (also of Native American descent) accidentally stumbles across a volume of poetry by Native American writer on one of the shelves of the university’s library. She then discovers that many of the poems written take place on the Spokane Indian Reservation where Corliss is originally from. She then begins to wonder why she has never heard of him. After an extensive search she is able to locate him and comes to find that he had been adopted at an early age by a white couple and had moved into tje city. This particular tale could be interpreted as Sherman Alexie’s way of saying that it is okay to leave the reservation to persue a better life.
And that perhaps the story of the young girl and the poetry writer she discovered are autobiographical as they both in a sense represent the events in Alexie’s life. Do You Know Where I Am? is a story of a young couple who are of Native American descent (one Spokane and the other Apache) who while walking outdoors near their college campus overhear a cat trapped in the thorns of a blackberry bush and rescue it. Upon returning the cat to the rightful owners that narrator tells them that it was his idea to call them and that he was the one that rescued their cat.
In reality it was his fiance, Sharon who had done all of that. After leaving the cat with the owners Sharon becomes upset with the narrator and doesn’t speak to him for an extended period of time. This causes the narrator to worry that maybe she is having second thoughts about marrying him. Sometime later on she returns to him and saying to that she is going to marry a liar. After several years together as a married couple she tells the story of the trapped cat to many family members, her children, and her grandchildren about how he lied about the saving the cat.
Years went by and the story had more and more added to it to make it humorous; such as the narrator falling into the river. Towards the end of the story Sharon is laying on her deathbed and we see this conversation between the two: “I’m going to die soon. ” Sharon said. “I know. ” I said. “I’m OK with it. ” “I’m not. ” “Because I love you so much. ” I said. “I would fist fight time to win back your youth. ” “You’re a liar. ” She said and smiled, too tired to laugh. “I lied to you once. ” I said. “But I haven’t lied to you since. ” “Is that the truth? ” “Yes. ” I said, and it almost was.