Poetry. Native American Studies. "Whether slyly identifying irony as a white man's invention, or deftly moving from prose-like multilayered narratives to formal poetry and song structures, this fifth collection from poet, novelist, and screenwriter Alexie demonstrates many of his skills. Most prominent perhaps is his ability to handle multiple perspectives and complex psychological subject matter with a humor that feeds readability: 'Successful non-Indian writers are viewed as well-informed about Indian life. Successful mixed-blood writers are viewed as wonderful translators of Indian life. Successful Indian writers are viewed as traditional storytellers of Indian life.' Poems such as the title one, a haunting chant for lost family, and 'The Theology of Cockroaches, ' do some vivid scene setting: '...never/woke to a wall filled with cockroaches/spelling out my name, never/stepped into a dark room and heard/the cockroaches baying at the moon.' At times Alexie allows his language, within the lineated poems almost exclusively, to slacken into cliche. The opening, multipart prose piece 'The Unauthorized Biography of Me' is arguably the strongest in the book, juxtaposing roughly chronological anecdotes with 'An Incomplete List of People I Wish Were Indian' and the formula 'Poetry = anger x imagination.' Other poems tell of 'Migration, 1902' and 'Sex in Motel Rooms'; describe 'How It Happens' and 'Second Grief'; and develop 'The Anatomy of Mushrooms.' Alexie's latest is as powerful and challenging as his previous excellent books, and should only add readers to his ever-widening audience"—Publishers Weekly.
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