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Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories Paperback – 24 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press (24 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802121756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802121752
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 930,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Alexie is a virtuoso of the short story. . . . His first two blazing collections, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and" The Toughest Indian in the World", established him as an essential American voice. Now, many books later, best-selling Alexie has created a substantial, big-hearted, and potent collection that combines an equal number of new and selected stories to profound effect. In these comfort-zone-destroying tales . . . Alexie writes with arresting perception in praise of marriage, in mockery of hypocrisy, and with concern for endangered truths and imperiled nature. He is mischievously and mordantly funny, scathingly forthright, deeply and universally compassionate, and wholly magnetizing. This is a must-have collection."--Donna Seaman, "Booklist"


"A poet and fiction writer for adults of all ages, National Book Award winner Alexie is a virtuoso of the short story. His first two blazing collections, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and" The Toughest Indian in the World", established him as an essential American voice. Now, many books later, best-selling Alexie has created a substantial, big-hearted, and potent collection that combines an equal number of new and selected stories to profound effect. In these comfort-zone-destroying tales, including the masterpiece, 'War Dances, ' his characters grapple with racism, damaging stereotypes, poverty, alcoholism, diabetes, and the tragic loss of languages and customs. Questions of authenticity and identity abound. . . . Alexie writes with arresting perception in praise of marriage, in mockery of hypocrisy, and with concern for endangered truths and imperiled nature. He is mischievously and mordantly funny, scathingly forthright, deeply and universally compassionate, and wholly magnetizing. This is a must-have collection."--Donna Seaman, "Booklist" (starred review)

"[A] sterling collection of short stories by Alexie, a master of the form. . . . . The newer pieces are full of surprises. . . . . These pieces show Alexie at his best: as an interpreter and observer, always funny if sometimes angry, and someone, as a cop says of one of his characters, who doesn't 'fit the profile of the neighborhood.'"--"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)

"Alexie hammers away at ever-simmering issues, like racism, addiction, and infidelity, using a no-holds-barred approach and seamlessly shattering the boundary between character and reader. But while these glimpses into a harried and conflicted humanity prod our consciousness, there's plenty of bawdiness and Alexie's signature wicked humor throughout to balance out the weight."--"Publishers Weekly "(starred review)


"Over the years, Alexie has carved out a space in American literature as the great, tragicomic bard of the modern Native American experience. The stories in "Blasphemy" offer ample proof why. . . . Told in [Alexie's] irreverent, unforgettable voice . . . You'll feel you've been transported inside the soul of a deeply wounded people. But they are a people too comfortable in their brown skins to allow those wounds to break them. . . . With irony and sardonic wit, the Native men and women in Alexie's imagination find a way forward, and they endure. . . . [A] great triumph."--"Los Angeles Times"
"Alexie once again reasserts himself as one the most compelling contemporary practitioners of the short story. In "Blasphemy," the author demonstrates his talent on nearly every page. These are deceptively simple, swift-moving stories awash with characters in the thrall of various sins and existential quandaries. Alexie deftly administers near equal doses of pathos and humor, providing such smooth entertainment that some readers may glide over his empathetic treatment of such themes as racism, identity, family, loyalty, and ceremony. . . . Will appeal to fans of Junot Diaz, George Saunders, and readers new to Alexie will find this enriching collection to be the perfect introduction to a formidable literary voice. . . . [Alexie] illuminates the lives of his characters in unique, surprising and, ultimately, hopeful ways."--"Boston Globe"
"Tough, warmhearted, rowdy, and moving . . . Alexie's achievement here is his depiction of the tangled complexities of race--that great open secret of American life--in an undidactic and utterly natural way."--"The Washington Post"
"A timely reminder of Alexie's genius."--"The Guardian"
"The truths [Alexie] mines are so insightful that even the most ardent critic must pause and consider his words. The depth of Alexie's stories is complemented by the self-awareness and unapologetic humor that suffuse almost every page. A --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Alexie is a poet, novelist, and screenwriter. He has won the Pen/Faulkner Award, Stranger Genius Award in Literature, " Boston Globe"-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children s Literature, and the Malamud Award."


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Format: Kindle Edition
Nearly twenty years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Sherman Alexie read from his work at the University of Arizona, and realized that I was hearing a genuine superstar in the literary genre of short story, portraying the lives of his fictional American Indians with ample with and compassion, replete with a graceful, often poetically terse, literary style. His latest short story collection "Blasphemy" is both a celebration and affirmation of Alexie's tremendous gifts as a prose stylist, poet and storyteller, in presenting both old and new short stories emphasizing his exceptional propensity for humor - especially those both mordant and sardonic - and ample understanding for the lives of contemporary American Indians dealing with all the vicissitudes of current American society. Many tales deal with issues of identity; irreverent and poignant tales where his fictional protagonists contend with their identities as members of their respective tribes, while existing in a predominantly urban American cultural landscape beholden to television, the Internet and other media for both its news and entertainment. In recent years, however, Alexie has extended his ethnic literary landscape, writing humorous tales emphasizing white and black protagonists dealing gingerly with still contentious issues pertaining to race in the United States. Regardless of the subject matter and ethnic background of his protagonists, Alexie has become a most astute, compassionate observer of contemporary American society in his fiction, which, I suspect, may be why he is highly regarded still as among our foremost practitioners of the American short story. Those interested in acquiring an extensive introduction to Alexie's excellent literary art will not be disappointed with "Blasphemy"; others who are his most devoted fans will recognize it as a long-overdue collection of his substantial gifts as a storyteller and prose stylist in the genre of short story.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
having read two of Sherman Alexie's collection of short stories, I feel that his work is equal parts empathic and furious. He gives a witty and painfully honest insight into the lives of contemporary Native Americans that few other authors offer. He intelligently discusses many issues of the human condition and I think anyone who is struggling with their social, cultural or economic identity should read this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So poignant my heart hurts.
I dipped in and out if this for weeks.
So sad that it is done.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x987b118c) out of 5 stars 159 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9861cd2c) out of 5 stars And now, from Spokane... 7 Oct. 2012
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Pretty gutsy: Putting your old work next to your recent work and letting the reader compare them so easily. For Sherman Alexie, it works just fine.

Many of the stories in this volume, as always with Alexie, are vignettes, bringing us to a place or time or person and just introducing us. Others are short stories of people with needs that are met or not, filled with successes, failures, and not so easily labeled endings. As always, Alexie mostly writes from the view of Spokane Indians and their interactions on the rez and off the rez, with fellow tribe members and members of other tribes (not always Indian).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I have read pretty much everything that Alexie has written, so it was reading about old friends and meeting new ones. In the stories, I hear Alexie's voice, telling of his experiences, of his friends' and family's experiences, and of the experiences of all of us.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x984cc204) out of 5 stars Heart-Breaking, Funny, Brilliant 9 Oct. 2012
By Ellen W. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was introduced to Sherman Alexie's work in college with his excellent YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and read his short-story "The Toughest Indian in the World" shortly after. What struck me immediately about his work was his frank, conversational writing style, his characters' humor in the face of tragedy and emptiness. Alexie doesn't try to paint pretty, poetic pictures- instead he shows the world as he sees it, all the ugliness and injustice of humanity, but also its compassion. These traits can be found in all of the stories collected in this volume.

Alexie gets people, and not just Indian people. Oh, he does a wonderful job of showing what it's like to be Indian, from the importance of tradition and storytelling to the confliction over assimilation. He doesn't shy away from writing about the really painful stuff, like the oppressive hopelessness many Indians experience. This is not tear-jerking sentimentality but a frank, realistic portrayal of what life is like. There's no preaching here. Though Alexie gives realistic portrayals of Indians, what really surprised me was his portrayal of White people. Forgive me if I'm focusing on the wrong thing, but, as a White person, I could really relate to these characters. When it comes to books about multi-cultural interaction, I'm used to seeing White characters being presented as oblivious to racial matters, sometimes well-intentioned but almost always needing to learn some kind of moral. These characters are not like that. These characters suffer from racial dissatisfaction and guilt, and feelings of racelessness and cultural void. They sometimes do racist things, but if you're paying attention, you'll gain an understanding of why they do these things. Sometimes they want to be heroes and save the Indians to assuage their own racial guilt. Sometimes they use Indians (and others) to try to bring cultural meaning into their own lives. And sometimes, the Indians in these stories do these things, too. Everyone's trying to overcome the problems and divisions caused by race, and just by being human. There aren't really good guys and bad guys here, just people struggling with the world they live in and their own identities.

I related to and cared about these characters. The stories were interesting because I really wanted to find out what happened to them (not to mention the strong plotting and engaging writing style). There was only one that started to drag a bit for me, quite impressive for a volume this size.

IN SHORT: Sherman Alexie is an amazing author who writes frankly about the human condition. He doesn't make things seem brighter than they are or sentimentalize about tragedy. His characters are strong no matter their race; they have realistic motivations and behaviors. I loved them most when they used humor in the face of their pain. The stories here are interesting because you want to know what happens to them, plus the writing and the plotting are interesting and engaging. Sherman Alexie is a must-read author for those wanting to explore the human condition.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x987a6f3c) out of 5 stars New stories 1 Oct. 2012
By Tom T - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Blasphemy" by Sherman Alexie is a collection of short stories, about half of which are newly published. The old stories are from a number of his previous books such as " The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven". I must admit that I am a fan of Sherman Alexie and have read most of what he has written. His stories are funny, provocative, and very original. He is a great story teller with the wit of Mark Twain and has the odd character types like the Minnesota writer Louise Erdrich. I had fun reading many of the stories for the second time and found even more to enjoy. Some of the new stories move away from his more typical Native American subject matter and move into more general subjects. Overall if you have never read Alexie you are in for a treat. I highly recommend "Blasphemy"
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98437090) out of 5 stars 'Indian' stories that speak to the human condition 28 Sept. 2012
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reading Sherman Alexie's stories has long been on my bucket list, so I was quite happy for the chance to order a copy of his latest book to read and review. And I was not disappointed. This substantial tome contains some classic stories as well as new ones to provide many happy hours reading and re-reading. The stories vary widely in length---some are only a page and a half long, a couple are over 100 pages--but all are captivating and surprising. Nearly all of the stories are written in first person, and sound like authentic experiences, no matter how bizarre they might be. From reading about Alexie online, I know that a few are autobiographical (such as "Indian Education"), yet even the few that he wrote from a female perspective sound convincingly personal and real. Even though his stories all (as far as I can tell) involve Indians (he never uses the the term "Native American") who live in Washington state, such as Spokane and Lummi tribes; and I am white woman who has never even set foot in Washington state, I still found the stories personally affecting. There are themes of longing, belonging, alienation, family, death, among others. Many of the stories are poetic in language and metaphor, some even enigmatic. For instance, the one called "Salt", I still don't completely understand. Some are to be felt rather than comprehended literally. So far my favorite is the one about donkey basketball, though it is fraught with tragedy. This is a book for a mature audience that doesn't mind a little blasphemy. There is sex, disease, poverty, alcoholism, violence, swearing, and death. Yet Alexie pulls it off with such ironic lightness and humor that it is enjoyable to read.

Some ideas to experience Alexie's work online: watch his readings and comedy presentations on youtube, read some of his wonderful poetry at poetryfoundation dot org, watch the film "Smoke Signals"--which is based on one of his short stories--on netflicks. I found them all very interesting and they make you think and feel. I hope you enjoy these, and I definitely recommend this new book by Sherman Alexie.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98417a8c) out of 5 stars Extraordinarily good! 24 Sept. 2012
By Daffy Du - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had never heard of Sherman Alexie until a close friend was terminally ill and distributing her considerable library among her friends. She urged me to take several books by Alexie, which I did, but I hadn't read them when I saw that Blasphemy was being offered through Vine. I ordered it mainly in homage to her. After finishing it, I'm so impressed that I'm keen to read the others.

Blasphemy is a collection of Alexie's short stories, some of which were published in his earlier collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Ranging in length from a couple of pages to novella size, they are accessible, powerful, often funny and always moving. Some will make you uncomfortable, some will delight, but all ring true, capturing slices of modern Indian life in the Pacific Northwest, where he lives. More than just the insights they provide into Native American culture and life on and off a reservation, they are about universal themes--love, family, belonging, alienation, poverty, humor, and much more. But Alexie doesn't hammer home the themes in hamfisted prose; he weaves them subtly throughout. It's the characters and the situations that will draw you in and keep you reading. Some of my favorites were "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," "Salt," "Emigration" and "The Search Engine," but they were all good, and I literally couldn't put the book down. Alexie is a masterful writer, as gifted as one of my other favorites for short fiction, Ethan Canin, which is high praise indeed.

If you enjoy short stories and American writers, you won't go wrong with Blasphemy.

Five very enthusiastic stars.
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