Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sure, man

This spring I read some stories by Sherman Alexie, recently finishing his YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. This is not a review. If there are seven channels on the Internet, and there are seven channels on the Internet, one of them is the Reviews channel. So if you need a review you need only rotate your internet dial a maximum of six turns to hit some reviews of said book.

We are are own channel here.

I am reluctant to praise The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian too highly because of the light way it sometimes swings from the wretchedly awful to almost magical successes of its narrator. Actually, I can think of several reasons more why I don't want to praise this book too highly, but for reasons you'll soon see I need to tell you right away why I am reluctant to praise The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian too modestly, too stintingly, too little.  I am reluctant to praise The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian too modestly because it arouses an overpowering jealousy in me. There is something about how and what good things happen to Sherman Alexie and his characters that makes me feel somehow like I wish I had gotten them, something that makes me feel I should be like that.

I should have been a braver, more gifted athlete, I should have hopelessly punched more people, I should have won a National Book Award.

But saying it out loud I feel a little silly.

I don't want to blame Sherman Alexie for glamorizing himself. I'm pretty sure I'm the one doing that. So I'm going to try going ahead and give him my seal of approval and just see what happens.

And here is a little secret for you. Writing is very fun, and satisfying, and interesting, and challenging. And it can even make you into a better person for awhile if you do it right. But writing is also, sometimes, just a little bit, like being in a cage. And you pound and pound on the bars of the cage, you rattle them from the inside. If you read something you really like there is all the writing and clarity and attention of the writer, the craft and magic of words, story, idea, art. But sometimes, what makes writing seriously good is that little sound, underneath, of the writer, deep down, banging on the bars, trying desperately to be, personally, absolutely, heard.

It's the dash of salt.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian?  I think I can hear Sherman Alexie in there.

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