Read Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie Online


The life of Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire irrevocably changes when blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on his reservation and passes the misfit storyteller his enchanted guitar. Inspired by this gift, Thomas forms Coyote Springs, an all-Indian Catholic band who find themselves on a magical tour that leads from reservation bars to Seattle and New York--The life of Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire irrevocably changes when blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on his reservation and passes the misfit storyteller his enchanted guitar. Inspired by this gift, Thomas forms Coyote Springs, an all-Indian Catholic band who find themselves on a magical tour that leads from reservation bars to Seattle and New York--and deep within their own souls....

Title : Reservation Blues
Author :
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ISBN : 9780802141903
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Reservation Blues Reviews

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-05-18 20:11

    Reservation Blues, Sherman Alexie Reservation Blues is a 1995 novel by American writer Sherman Alexie (Spokane-Coeur d'Alene). The novel follows the story of the rise and fall of a rock and blues band of Spokane Indians from the Spokane Reservation. In 1995, Thomas Builds-The-Fire, Junior Polatkin, and Victor Joseph, who also appear in Sherman Alexie's short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, meet American blues musician Robert Johnson. He sold his soul to the devil in 1931 and claims to have faked his death seven years later. The three boys start a rock and blues band in Spokane using Johnson's enchanted guitar.تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سیزدهم ماه اکتبر سال 2016 میلادیعنوان: آوازهای غمگین اردوگاه ؛ نویسنده: شرمن الکسی؛ مترجم: سعید توانایی؛ تهران، روزنه، 1394؛ در 360 ص؛ شابک: 9789643345051؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - قرن 21 مبسیار خواندنی ست در آستین هر پاراگراف، قصه ای و شعری سروده است. ا. شربیانیرابرت جانسون مرد سیاه‌پوستی که در معامله با شیطان (آقا) به قدرتی بی‌نظیر در نوازندگی گیتار (سبک بلوز) رسیده، سر از اردوگاه سرخپوستان اسپوکن درمی‌آورد و با: توماس آتش به پاکن، بدترین قصه‌ گوی قبیله برخورد می‌کند. او گیتارش را زمانی که با راهنمایی توماس برای ملاقات با بزرگ مادر به پای کوه «ول‌ پینیت» می‌رود در ماشین او جا می‌گذارد و همین بهانه‌ ای می‌شود تا توماس همراه با دو دوست دیگر خود به نام‌های: جونیور پولتکین، و ویکتور جوزف (چس و چکرز، دو دختر سرخ‌پوست از قبیله «فلت‌ هد» در ادامه به عنوان خواننده کر به گروه اضافه می‌شوند) گروه موسیقی راکی را با نام: «کایوت اسپرینگز» تشکیل می‌دهند. آن‌ها برآنند تا درد و رنجی که در طول تاریخ پر فراز و نشیب بومیان بر آن‌ها رفته را به موسیقی بدل کنند. ... ا. شربیانی

  • Theresa Alan
    2019-05-01 23:24

    “They dreamed of fishing salmon but woke up as adults to shop at the Trading Post and stand in line for U.S.D.A. commodity food instead. They savagely opened cans of commodities and wept over the rancid meat.”I was first introduced to these characters when I saw the movie Smoke Signals, which was originally a book (that I didn’t read). I liked the movie, in part because I think the actor Adam Beach is yummy. In this book, Thomas is given an enchanted guitar and forms a band with Victor and Junior. The writing is beautiful, and the subject—life on the Spokane Indian reservation—can be sad owing to the alcoholism and poverty. For more of my reviews, please visit:

  • Nathan
    2019-04-30 18:27

    I don't know what I was expecting when I picked this up. I had read some of Alexie's short fiction anthologies and enjoyed them. Upon moving to Seattle and finding out that he was a local, I picked this up at a used book store, figuring I'd give it a read. I did not expect Thomas-builds-the-fire to get under my skin and change my life. Yet somehow he did.I grew up a stone's throw from the Southern Ute and Navajo reservations. I had friends from both tribes through most of my public school years. Yet I had never understood what it was to be a Native American. "Reservation Blues" made me realize that I may never fully understand, but gave me new eyes to help me at least see.Truly one of the best novels I've ever read - perhaps because it was the perfect time of my life to read it, perhaps for other reasons. But there are few books that compare in my experience for capturing a generous slice of humanity in a very true manner.

  • صان
    2019-04-22 23:04

    یک کتاب بسیار عالی! میگن رعالیسم جادوییه، ولی خب من که نمیدونم ینی چی.داستان درمورد یه عده سرخپوسته که بند موسیقی میزنن. اما شیوه بیان و اتفاقایی که میفته واقن نظیر نداره. مثلن یه صحنه داریم که‌گیتاره با طرف یهو دیالوگ میگه. و ازین قبیل بامزه بازی ها. که خب مثال نمیزنم دیگه ازشون چون مزه‌ش میره. اما واقعن روون و شیرین و جذابه و زمین گذاشتنش بسی سخت. اگه دنبال کتابی هستین که اسون خونده بشه، دنبال خودش بکشتون، و یخورده هم تمای فلسفی یا عمیق پس داستانش داشته باشه، این یک گزینه عالی خواهد بود!

  • Gypsy
    2019-04-24 20:30

    ازون کتابایی که کلی نوستالژی و کنایه‌های ناب رو زنده می‌کنن. خیلی کتاب زنده‌ای بود و نویسنده اطلاعات فوق‌العاده‌ای در زمینه فرهنگ عامه و سرخ‌پوستا و موسیقی و هنر داشت.

  • Rachel Elizabeth
    2019-05-06 21:21

    This is some very American magical realism, what with its mash-up of the Robert Johnson crossroads legend with life on a Spokane Indian reservation and rock star ambitions. Perhaps even more American than apple pie?!??As a concept, I love American magical realism (see also: Swamplandia!, which coincidentally is about people who like to pretend they're Indian). The execution of the book I really, really liked too. Reservation Blues is full of nightmares and alcoholism, but also, funny digs at white people and corporeal encounters with God. Alexie's writing is charming and emotional, without being over the top on either account.There is a lot going on here thematically too. Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil for his guitar skill (a blues legend which is taken for truth in the book) runs parallel to Thomas & Friends' quest to become rock stars, using the same guitar, ultimately hoping to escape the poverty of the reservation. To achieve this dream also involves the shirking of some essential part of themselves, their cultural "soul" too. Thomas's girlfriend Chess personifies the struggle. She resents certain traits of Indian men, but she also resents the white women who make tokens of them. All of the mysticism and themes double back on each other in true fairy tale fashion. Alexie is a Storyteller, just like Thomas. As someone with ambitions to write but who always struggles with the damn telling a good story part of it all, I appreciate how intricately every part of this book loose-threads together. But I have to say that in the world of US magical realism, I do have a preference for the crunchy, lyrical wonders of Karen Russell.

  • Robert Mitchell
    2019-05-13 00:04

    If reading Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is like running alongside a longhouse with 24 windows, getting 24 glimpses or mental snapshots of life inside, Reservation Blues is like being invited in and offered a can of Pepsi, a hot piece of fry bread and a place to crash. You are there for the awkward silences and shy smiles, the pettiness and jealousy of a small community, the loyalty and tradition, the despair and depression. In Fistfight, you’re buoyed by the narrator’s survival and the artificial decorum of a brief visit. In Reservation Blues you’re living on the reservation; tempted to turn away from particularly painful moments and compelled to stand solemnly when “characters” you’ve come to care for fall beside you. In the terminology of white American history, Reservation Blues is a Tall Tale with larger-than-life everything . If we look for a more universal term, the “magical realism” of Gabriel Garcia Marquez comes to mind and explains what Alexie probably meant when he coined the term “reservation realism.” Some folks have probably criticized Reservation Blues for being too preachy and heavy-handed but we’re talking about a couple hundred years of brutality and genocide so I think it’s fair to cut Alexie a little slack. While I was disappointed that Robert Johnson didn’t play as significant a role as I expected, the real Coyote Spring’s lyrics are fitting tributes to his legacy.

  • Theophilus (Theo)
    2019-05-11 22:18

    Fantastic. Another homerun for Sherman Alexie. The author lifts W.E.B. Dubois' color veil briefly for us to see into the complexities of life on an Indian reservation. The effects of placing the people native to the land that is now The United States of America in what were in effect concentration camps with invisible physical fences, but psychological barriers to keep them out of the way of "civilization" are still taking a toll on them today. Having Robert Johnson suddenly appear on a reservation to get rid of his possessed guitar, given to him by that gentleman, and seek redemption is brilliant. The guitar changes hands and creates problems, more than they already had, for the Indians that use it as a way off of the reservation. I now understand why a musical group like Indigenous can sing "I Got the Blues This Morning" with such palpable feeling. You don't have to be an Indian to enjoy the masterful story told in this book. Three young Indian men take possession of Johnson's guitar and it takes control of them, or does it just accentuate the problems they faced every day. The inner conflicts they face daily, the problems with relationships between the men and women they encounter in their lives, including within their own families are enough to overpower a weaker people. Happy ending? Probably not. Tragedy and conflict, definitely. Read it.

  • Laura
    2019-05-11 02:26

    As my friend Karen said yesterday, Sherman Alexie has the ability to make you laugh and cry in the same sentence. I love how he touches on the irony of a situation that drives it deep into the loneliest part of your being instead of just staying cliched and clever on the surface.I love how Alexie weaves between various stories seamlessly and how the mythology and the reality of Native Americans blurs hazily together. Somehow this makes the reality starker and the mythology even more wistful. I also love how Alexie always ties the present into the historical. In this book, a lot of the horror of the Native American genocide is relived through characters' dreams. It raises the question of how do we incorporate our cultures' histories into our own lives.... how do we grieve the past? How do we atone for it? How do we live our lives informed by it but not chained by it?The movie "Smoke Signals" by Chris Eyre is based off of this book loosely. Thomas Builds-the-Fire and Victor are two of the main characters in the story. If you liked "Smoke Signals", you like this. I loved both.

  • Ranee
    2019-05-22 19:18

    I actually found this book along with many others in a trash pile on my way to work. I remember hearing a story of his once on NPR called, "What You Pawn I Redeem," which nearly brought me to tears by the end. Seriously, I actually sat in my car waiting for the story to finish. Pathetic? Yes. But it was a very dramatic reading. Anyway, I read the book, which was about a group of Indians on a reservation in Washington (I think most of his writing revolves around similar characters) who end up starting a rock band. They start to get pretty famous and some issues of marginalization and racial exploitation begin to arise as white record executives try to influence the group. (There's a lot more to it than this, but I don't feel like explaining.) There were some good characters in the book and I liked how Alexie wove Native American folklore into the story. But I didn't think it was as strong as the story I heard on the radio.

  • Andrew
    2019-04-21 21:29

    Sherman Alexie is one of the few writers who has managed to survive the late '80s/early '90s vogue for all things Native American, a cultural wave that incorporated any number of now mostly forgotten Indian writers, and the Oscar given to that melodramatic piece of shit Dances With Wolves. And there's a reason he's survived-- he writes with a sort of Murakami sense of archetypes freely floating around, traditional stories colliding with rock musicians and corporate brands, and it's all tempered with the sort of bitter sense of humor that comes from the bitter truth of life on the Res. It would be hard for me to put labels like "timeless" or "transcendental" on Reservation Blues, but it nails down its particular thing awfully well.

  • Ana Rînceanu
    2019-05-12 00:14

    A treasure of a book!

  • Victoria
    2019-04-26 20:02

    I am very disappointed as I write this review. At first, I was disappointed in myself because I could not, did not, will not finish this book. I wanted to, believe me. Oh, there was internal struggle. I mean, I need to read this; it's this month's pick for the book club I'm in. I need to be able to discuss this. Plus, I loved--loved--Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. It's on my "guaranteed you'll love it too" list, for crying out loud. Speaking of which, Alexie's other YA novel Flight made me cry out loud. The ending of that book was beautiful! So, yes, I went into reading Reservation Blues with high hopes.RB did not pull me in right away as I wanted it to. I kept on. I tried. But Alexie glossed over certain parts and waxed poetic on others. As I tried to get into the story and failed, I felt awful knowing I was not going to finish the book. What a terrible reader I am, I thought. I have no discipline. I'm a lazy reader (my niece has told me so and she's right).But then I started to get mad at Alexie. He'd go on and on about some dream sequence and then another dream. God, these characters dream a lot! And it was like he was going: Here's this for you to read and THIS, but that? Oh, you want to read about that? and he threw a couple adjectives at THAT and called that scene done. And I'm the one feeling lazy?!?So I quit. One third of the way in and I'm moving on to another book. I won't be finishing RB although I may pick up another book by ol' Sherman in the future. But you can bet that I'll expect him to draw me in within the first chapter. Just as I expect the next novel I pick up to do.Oh, it'll be formulaic drivel, but it'll describe THIS and THAT.

  • Daniel
    2019-05-18 18:30

    Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I heard about Sherman Alexie for years before I finally picked up one of his books. Unfortunately, that book was "Flight," a short little tale that bored me in the telling and left me unimpressed. Surely, I thought, this is not the kind of writing that gave Alexie his literary stature?I picked up "Reservation Blues" because a few of my students were reading it for an English class, and I liked the idea of being able to discuss it in our adviser meetings. From the get-go, I was pulled into the story by Alexie's prose and his talent for dialog. The idea of Robert Johnson showing up in the modern world, still carrying his guitar, kicked my ass and got me excited for something weird and different.Johnson ends up taking a back seat early on in the story, leaving the stage open for a handful of characters who put a band together and start playing gigs on their reservation. From here, Alexie tinkers with his fictional reality, imbuing his band with talent and popularity that accrue far faster than one might expect. In between rock-and-rolling, the band members talk about their lives on the reservation, and what they might be able to make for themselves outside of it. It was these latter conversations that were my favorite part of the book, especially when the female characters talk about how difficult it has been to find a dependable man in their community. I know little about life on reservations, and the depiction that Alexie paints in this book moved and disturbed me.I understand, now, why Alexie attracted such a large following, and why people respect his books. "Reservation Blues" is an affecting read, one that recalls the emotions it evoked whenever I think about it. I'm glad that I gave Alexie another chance.

  • Mission Blue
    2019-05-06 18:10

    The whole story is kinda simple. 4 people trying to make a band and then they fail. That’s it. But the whole story is not just this. Thousands of other stories are told between the lines. Stories that are filled with magic. Stories that have happened in the 19th century and stories that have happened yesterday.I could feel the magic everywhere. I could feel the weight behind each word. I could feel the disappointment, the despair, the joy and the laughter. I could hear the music they played. The sound of the piano, the guitar and the drums. I could hear all the notes that big mom sang. And I mourned for their loss.In a world of cruel realities a little bit of magic has to be cherished. I cherished all those little moments of magic that I felt while reading this book. Read it not just for the stories. Read it because of the magic.

  • Lindsay
    2019-05-21 02:08

    Reservation Blues begins with the tortured soul of a musician, and his guitar. The blues musician, a reanimated form of the late Robert Johnson, hands his enchanted instrument to Thomas Builds the Fire. This guitar possesses skill, precision and soul, no matter who its owner is. Johnson had given his soul to the Devil in order to acquire these powers. When was given this guitar, he too felt the music radiating with its strings. This power, (note, this satanic power) compelled Thomas to create a band of his own. Two of his former bullies and two women from another tribe, joined together to form Coyote Springs. The band became successful, performing at other reservations and ultimately in New York City where they played for a record company. In a turn of events, the auditions went horribly. The guitar wouldn’t play and the magic that the band had once poured from their original songs was if it hadn’t existed. This was indicative of the plight of Native Americans in what is now the United States. When things seemed to turn up for them, everything tends to fall apart. The bitterness and well as the resent I imagine that Native Americans feel, is well represented in this book through their disdain for their government distributed foods. The theme of escape was present through out each character’s back story, but oddly enough each character returned. What I especially liked about this book it its view of music and its acknowledgement of the effects music have on one’s soul. As I musician, I felt closely related to Robert Johnson. Music, characterized by his guitar, had captured his being to the point where it became hard to leave the instrument’s side. And because of this dependency on music, the link between music and Satan is easily identifiable and understandable. As well, Reservation Blues gave the reader insight into the lives of modern day Native Americans. Often we are all too familiar with the noble Native American riding his brave horse across green planes. This image is not only cliché, but its out dated and inaccurate of the average Native American. According to, five of the top ten causes of death are relates to alcohol and alcohol dependence. These numbers are three to four times larger than the national average. This book, while flawed in its complexity and predictability, I liked its array of situations and emotions afflicting Native Americans, a minority group often forgotten.

  • Joe Fahey
    2019-04-28 01:23

    This is one of those books I didn't want to end. I've been reading it off and on for a while now and I liked picking it up and having a read whenever I felt like escaping for a bit. Any book that starts out with Robert Johnson mysteriously appearing at the Spokane Indian Reservation decades after his death and handing off his enchanted guitar with its devil-dealed skills ready to transfer to its next caretaker is all right with me. I was easily charmed with the dialogue and the subtle humor of a culture and history that I haven't encountered before, at least not like this. The local youth starts a band called Coyote Springs and head off on a musical and self discovery adventure that is quite fascinating and heartfelt. I loved how the storyline weaved seamlessly in and out of dream states, present locations and another world full of mystery and wonder ... sorry, the phone just rang and I lost my train of thought ... there was also an enormous sadness built in throughout and a fascinating encounter with Cavalry Records in NYC which was quite heavy and quite brilliant as the cruel and exploitative music business was written in to help display a much bigger story than the average rise and fall story of an American rock band.

  • Evan
    2019-05-17 19:06

    Thomas-Builds-a-Fire is one of the greatest characters in 20th century literature. Period. What a fantastic novel. Stronger than Alexie’s debut collection, RESERVATION BLUES explores similar territory with an even greater scope as he takes his compelling, hilarious, and tragic characters (Thomas-Builds-a-Fire, Victor, and Junior) off of the reservation while also bringing outsiders onto it. The result is a convincing portrayal of the complex status his characters find themselves in: eroded connections to family (often fathers), white culture’s simultaneous fetishizing and dismissing of Native American culture, the fine line between advancing the status of the nation and causing problems, as well as some great, subtle, connections linking the experience of Africans and Native Americans. Overall, this novel should be the one people suggest when recommending Alexie to those who prefer novels (THE LONE RANGER AND TONTO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN is a great book but might not be as cohesive for people who already bristle at short stories, even though there’s plenty of character overlap).

  • Star
    2019-04-25 00:22

    makes me want some fry bread

  • Mindy
    2019-05-12 00:19

    I'm both drunk off the spiritual energy that absolutely oozes from the pages of this book, and at the same time, stone cold sober in the reality check it so effectively gives. Somewhere between the two, this book left me deeply emotional.The plot is about a reservation rock band and their brief career under the influence of a magical (enchanted? possessed?) guitar, given to main character Thomas Builds-The-Fire, by none other than blues legend Robert Johnson. However, thestoryis about much more than that. It's about past and present, and how they run opposite, yet collide. It's about freedom, real and imagined. About bad deals and trading away what's most important to you, only to regret it deeply later. It's about life's darkest emotions: Loneliness, depression, hopelessness, need. These characters live with these things every day, and try so hard to get away from them. Some drink them away, along with the pain of their pasts, while the sober ones sit by and watch them and feel desperation. Yet they all have hope, they all cling to that hope until the very last shred of it is slipping from their hands. Then they seek out new hope, over and over and over again. Some might find this a depressing story. But there is something beautiful in these pages. Spirit. God. Indian magic. Faith. Strength. Past lives, lived again and again. Chance meetings that change lives. Winding paths who's ends are not visible. This book found its way into my heart in the first few pages, and is still there even as I place it on the shelf and prepare to start a new one. I highly recommend it.

  • Bill
    2019-05-07 20:14

    The Indian Wars Today (2012)Alexie, Sherman (1995). Reservation Blues. New York: Warner Books. 306 pages.I confess immediately that I am a huge fan of Sherman Alexie and I think this book is an artistic masterpiece. I acknowledge that most of my friends do not share my opinion. Okay, that's out of the way. Each chapter opens with lyrics from a song. The first is from Alexie’s imaginary (as far as I know) song, Reservation Blues: “Dancing all alone, feeling nothing good, It’s been so long since someone understood.” That summaries the theme, tone, and mood of the novel.After the epigram lyrics, Chapter 1 starts with the line, “In the one hundred and eleven years since the creation of the Spokane Indian Reservation in 1881, not one person, Indian or otherwise, had ever arrived there by accident.”And those two lines neatly sum up the theme of Reservation Blues. It’s a heartfelt confession of a reservation Indian boy and his comrades. Alexie is now very much an “urban Indian,” of course, a world-renown and much-honored writer. But this book tries to show what life on the reservation was like, and still is like, for many people. Despite some shortcomings, it succeeds admirably.The opening imagery is fantastic, and sets the tone. Robert Johnson, legendary blues guitarist, is standing at a crossroads on the reservation, waiting. The young protagonist and narrator, Thomas Builds-the-Fire finds him there. Johnson seems sick and hurt, and Thomas offers to help. He considers taking him to the Indian Health Service, but then remembers they just give out dental floss and condoms, which wouldn’t be of any use. Instead he offers to take him to Big Mom, an enormous Indian woman who lives in a cabin atop a mountain. Johnson believes that would be a good idea because he has had dreams of such a woman, someone who could reverse the bargain he made with the devil, selling his soul in exchange for his otherwordly ability to play the guitar.The episode refers to the Faustian “Crossroads Legend” around Johnson (who died in 1938 at age 27): He met the devil at a crossroads (in Mississippi), and made the deal. The devil tuned his guitar for him and Johnson became a great player.Keying off this opening scene, Alexie develops a story in which Johnson gives Thomas his magical guitar, who gives it to his friend Victor, a drunken lout who suddenly, though intermittently, becomes able to play fantastic blues. They recruit another friend, Junior, and form a band, Coyote Springs. Thomas is the bass player and the “story-teller” (songwriter). They’re a terrible band, but the Indians on the rez appreciate them when they play in an abandoned grocery store.After a few local gigs, they get an audition with a record label in New York. Big Mom warns them not to go, but they have ambition and crave success. The talent scouts, Wright and Sheridan, buy the airline tickets for the band, which now includes two young Indian women (named Chess and Checkers), who were groupies but joined as backup singers.It’s worth noting that “Wright” is the name of the U.S. Cavalry officer who led the 1858 Indian Wars campaign that defeated the Spokane Indians, and “Sheridan” is the U.S. Army officer who famously declared that ‘The only good Indian is a dead Indian.’ Alexie is fond of inserting subtle cultural and historical references into his tale.So Coyote Springs goes to the Big Apple, but the audition becomes a disaster when the magical guitar “turns” on Victor, attacking him. For trying to sell out to the whites, perhaps? The group returns to the rez, failures, but the tribe resents them for having left at all. Why did they try to sell their souls to the whites? Who did they think they were, attempting to have a successful life off the reservation? The mood turns dark.Meanwhile, Robert Johnson is rehabilitated by Big Mom, although details are sparse. After that dramatic opening scene, the Robert Johnson story disappears into the background and the magic guitar is all that’s left.The story line explores and demonstrates these larger themes: What is the Indian soul? Why do Indians, even today, still see the white man as the devil? What are the roles of music and storytelling, and dreaming in the Indian cultural life? The novel tries to present a world view from the point of view of a young reservation Indian, Thomas, who seems educated, sensitive, and thoughtful, and who doesn’t drink. Thomas is Alexie’s alter-ego.I enjoyed a couple of conversations with Alexie at the 2008 Port Townsend, WA film festival, which focused on films by and about Indians. I asked him about the sense of time (or lack of it) portrayed in the 1961 film, The Exiles, about urban Indians in Los Angeles, a film he had introduced to the audience (“as the festival’s official Indian,” he joked).“Poverty is boring,” he said. “I was poor, and when you’re poor, it’s the same shit every day. The same fears and worries and problems. It’s like being in prison. There is no time.” I was stunned by the honesty, force, and depth of his answer. It’s what made the last line of the song, Reservation Blues, echo for me: “And if you ain’t got choices, Ain’t got much to lose.”I also asked him about the lack of ambition that seems to inhabit reservation culture and Indian life, as portrayed. He replied, “To have ambition means to accept the world of the people who destroyed you. Lack of ambition, even alcohol and drug addiction and suicide, are acts of rebellion against that.” I was skeptical. “Are the people really thinking that way,” I asked? “Subconsciously,” he answered, “always.”I was still skeptical, but I believed him, because I believe him. I’m white; I’m the devil. I offer the magic guitar of opportunity that promises hope but will turn on you eventually. From my culture-centric point of view, it’s hard to understand the racism and cultural and economic forces that keep the Indian wars going even today. This book successfully represents that and does it with engaging, likeable characters, stimulating imagery, original and sincere writing, and amazingly, with a light, humorous tone.

  • Mahshid D
    2019-05-05 18:12

    مثل خواب می‌مونست خوندن و پیش بردنش. یک جور لفت دادن از عمد می‌طلبید درواقع تا لذت رویا رسوخ کنه به تمام جون و دلت. شرمن الکسی جزو تاپ‌ترین نویسنده‌های محبوب زندگی فعلیِ منه که امید رو بهم برمی‌گردونه، همیشه راه درست پیش رفتن ر‌و نشون داده از لا به لای ماجراهای کارکترهاش. یک جایی از کتاب صفحه‌های آغازین گفته: ‏رویاها درمورد همه چیز تصمیم می‌گیرن. و چه خوب گفته.شرمن الکسی در واقع یک سرخ‌پوست نگار لعنتی دوست داشتنی است 3>سعید توانایی درست مثل عباس پژمان جزو مترجم‌هاییه که دوست دارم سرظهر انتهای کوچه خِفتش کنم؛ یخه‌اشو بگیرم تخته سینه‌اشو بکوبم به دیفال و توی صورتش هوار آبدار بکشم: مگه مجبوری ترجمه کنی؟

  • Mary Anne
    2019-04-28 21:26

    This is my second Sheman Alexie book (first was, of course, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian). I love the subject matter and writing style, so this was an easy buy for me. That said, it’s been some time since I’ve read the former, so I didn’t have much in terms of expectations. I might have expected a bit more humor, but otherwise it wasn’t off in any way.I think the book surfaces a lot of issues concerning Native Americans (and American culture) that I liked more than the plot line itself. And it’s not like any of the issues is a surprise: poverty, alcoholism, identity, colonization, mysticism, and cultural appropriation all have a strong presence throughout the book. But the inclusion of these elements is seamless, natural, and in no way overdone. What emerges is a fairly believable story with a few mystical tweaks (the lovely inclusion of Robert Johnson, the crossroads demon, and a strong Native American mother figure) that easily embodies the lived experience of a specific class of often-overlooked Americans.While I didn’t particularly love the book, I’m glad I read it, and I’m likely to pick up more of Alexie’s work. The characters are rich and heartbreaking. The flow of the book probably wouldn’t work anywhere else, but now it just seems essential for this genre.

  • Patrick Hurley
    2019-05-17 20:22

    There's magic in this book. Not the shimmering fairy dust of Disney, not the creeping shadows of Poe, but a magic of a different sort. An older magic, and a sadder one, probably because it's all true. I picked up Reservation Blues from the library because it was being displayed as a prominent book in Banned Book week. I'd read and listened to (even published at GBF) Sherman Alexie's work, but had never heard of this one. When I read the premise, that of famous blues musician Robert Johnson (who supposedly sold his soul to the Devil at the crossroads to become the best guitar player ever), wandering on to a Spokane reservation and giving Thomas Builds-the-Fire his guitar, I was hooked. Rock 'n roll. Pacific Northwest. An honest, heartbreaking look at life on a reservation. I loved this book. One of my favorite reads this year. The ending depressed the hell out of me while also making me smile.

  • Sara
    2019-05-18 01:01

    از طنز تلخ کتاب های شرمن الکسی، فقط تلخی ش را داشت. آن هم یک تلخی بی مزه و کشدار! پر از آه و ناله بود داستان فقط. که چقدر سرخ پوست ها بدبخت اند و به ما ظلم شده و از این صحیت که خوب البته درست است و در کتاب های دیگرش هم بود ولی نه به این صورت. بد بختی در این کتاب موج می زد. اصلا داستان یک سری بدبخت بود که بین مردمِ بدبختی مانند خودشان زندگی می کردند. طی اتفاقاتی این امید به وجود آمد که از این بدبختی بیرون بیایند ولی نشد و آخرش دوباره غرق در بدبختی خودشان شدند! یعنی یک چیزی در مایه های فیلم های ایرانی بود. (حالا نه به این غلظت.)ترجمه خیلی بد بود. خیلی! یعنی اگر زبان اصلی اش را بخوانم شاید کلا نظرم عوض شود.بعد التحریر: الان که نگاه کردم کتاب "پرواز" را هم با همین ترجمه خواندم. ولی به این بدی نبود...

  • Michael
    2019-05-03 22:24

    Sweet, sad, and satirical portrayal of life on a Spokane Indian reservation and attempts by a group of young men to break free by forming a blues-rock group. Good balance of a vivid and dramatic story interwoven with myths, legend, dreams, and whimsy. Elucidates the paradox of the white society seeming to value Indians for their spirituality and respect for nature while holding negative and inaccurate stereotypes. Alexie is sympathetic to whole cast of characters he populates this book with and affirms well the power of forgiveness and love as a source of hope for change and preservation of a community in the face of change.�

  • Maria Kramer
    2019-05-20 00:30

    This story meanders a lot, which takes away from its effectiveness, IMO. That said, it's still a heart-tugging work that really digs into the pain of life on the reservation without presenting any easy solutions.

  • Maciek
    2019-05-20 19:18

    Years after reading it I still remember the book and its characters.

  • Deborah
    2019-05-12 00:02

    Thomas Builds-the-Fire is a young man with a talent for telling stories and writing poems and song lyrics, living on a Spokane reservation. One day he sees a black man on the road, carrying a guitar. It turns out to be the famed guitar player, Robert Johnson. Johnson's hands are severely scarred and burned, and he's looking for a woman who is supposed to heal him. Thomas tells him about Big Mom, and Johnson believes she is the one he seeks, so Thomas drives him to the edge of the mountain where she lives. Later, Thomas discovers that Johnson has left his guitar behind, and that's when the adventures begin. The guitar is magical, almost playing on its own and turning anyone who picks it up into a prodigy. Thomas teams up with two troubled "friends" (guys who picked on him relentlessly in school), Junior and Victor, to form a band, Coyote Springs. At this point the story focuses on the band's short but rapid rise to semi-fame as an Indian band. Along the way, they pick up two sets of back-up singers, Indian wannabes Betty and Veronica, and, later, sisters Chess and Checkers Warm Water.While I enjoyed this novel, I don't think it compares to Alexie's best. It's a bit disjointed: the story focuses on Thomas but then goes off into the dreams, nightmares, and memories of all the other characters, too. 3.5 stars.

  • Jamie
    2019-05-11 01:06

    Sherman Alexie is such a talent. When I was in primary school, I watched Smoke Signals and even though I wasn't old enough to appreciate the messages that were subtler than the fact that Victor was a bully and Thomas was a nerd, that film still retains a fast hold on my memory twenty years later. A couple of years ago, I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I enjoyed that one, although it leaned heavily towards the young adult genre. With two such disparate and long-separated experiences of Alexie's work, I didn't know what to expect from Reservation Blues, but I knew it was going to be good. I just didn't realise it would be so sad. Looking back on it, the True Diary was tinged with the same underlying sadness but it was well disguised by the youthful optimism of the adolescent protagonist. Not so with Reservation Blues, which is entirely adult in its disillusionment, cynicism and ironic blend of hope, stubbornness and the terrible power of music. Knowing what happened to the Victor and Thomas of Smoke Signals made it even sadder for me, in some ways.This book is the first in my attempt to read books written by authors from different parts of the world (that is, written about a place/community by a member of that community) outside of the overwhelmingly Anglo-American, northwestern European literary tradition that I grew up in. Being raised in Hawaii, where the Native Hawaiians have maintained a level of respect and cultural integrity that has not been given to Native Americans, my experience and understanding of indigenous people and culture is much more positive than the way that white people are depicted when it comes to Native Americans. That is probably a big part of why this book made me so sad. Growing up being taught to respect and honour the Hawaiian culture, language and traditions, it was almost painful to read about the treatment of Native Americans, historically and presently. Alexie's ability to write so beautifully and evocatively is part and parcel of that pain.