Customer Reviews for

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Jaded Coin

The impulse to soldier on is both ruthlessly crushed and highly encouraged on the Spokane reservation. Victor and Thomas represent the stark contrast between relentless destruction and toughened hopefulness of the human spirit. The struggle to hold onto some loo...
The impulse to soldier on is both ruthlessly crushed and highly encouraged on the Spokane reservation. Victor and Thomas represent the stark contrast between relentless destruction and toughened hopefulness of the human spirit. The struggle to hold onto some loose foothold in their past as they pursue their blank futures littered with broken dreams, alcohol, and introspective dreaming. Sherman Alexie¿s Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is both written as a literary novel, and interwoven poetry pounding to the beat of tribal drums and chorusing lines of `John Wayne¿s Teeth.¿ It is hard to tell when the author is being melodramatic, or when a joke, so dry and intensely real, has escaped my attention. It is hard to tell what is meant to be funny and what is meant to rent the soul. I found myself laughing when I should have been crying. Overall, there is no moment greater than Thomas¿s grandstand as the great storyteller of the reservation. Though his stories have been told a thousand times, he has now withdrawn from his silence and returned to his creative genius. He represents part of the character of the novelist in that he wishes to return to a broken, shifting past in order to escape the hypocrisy of his present. Victor represents the other side of the jaded coin. He is angry, thoughtless, and acts out because he feels lost within himself and his environment. He represents the inability of the Native Americans to feel at home in what should have been their country, and the toughness they must exhibit to make it bearable. The two opposing viewpoints are only supported by a slew of characters with which these vivid people are described. When I reflected on the book I was surprised by the sense of detachment I felt. The wicked humor of the writer in his highway weatherman, road trips to phoenix, and flatbread crisis was what made the book bearable when the characters were drowning in their own irony.

posted by Anonymous on November 13, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

I think it'll stay with me

I feel a bit mixed about this book, which is a collection of 22 connected short stories, some in first and some in third person. The book was on a list of recommended literary fiction. Picking it up, I realized that though I've read many a book by African Americans, sev...
I feel a bit mixed about this book, which is a collection of 22 connected short stories, some in first and some in third person. The book was on a list of recommended literary fiction. Picking it up, I realized that though I've read many a book by African Americans, several assigned in school, I couldn't recall ever reading a work of fiction by a Native American about Native Americans. I found myself jotting down the unfamiliar or recurring words and themes, wanting to learn more later: frybread, salmon, commodity cheese, alcoholism, diabetes, sweathouse, longhouse, HUD, fancydancing, owldancing, basketball, powwow, tipi, braids, ribbon shirt, five hundred years.

That glimpse into another world, the world of the Spokane Indian Reservation, is a lot of what kept me reading, but I wondered at times when Alexie was giving us a look behind the stereotypes or playing with them. Especially given the touches of magical realism, I found myself wishing at times this was straight memoir and not (as admitted in the introduction) autobiographically inspired fiction.

This is a very bleak book--so much of it dealt with drunkenness and alcoholism and the self-destructive behavior it engenders, sprinkled with historical grievance and the experience of present-day bigotry and a terrible poverty. The most upbeat tale in the book revolved around a terminally ill cancer patient: "The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor." Two of the other standouts for me were "Fun House," about a women who finally has had it with the behavior of her husband and son, and "Indian Education." Here's a quote from that story that stuck with me:

"The farm town high school I play for is nicknamed the "Indians," and I'm probably the only actual Indian ever to play for a team with such a mascot. This morning I pick up the sports page and read the headline: INDIANS LOSE AGAIN. Go ahead and tell me none of this is supposed to hurt me very much."

I think that's a passage that captures a lot about the book. Clean, spare style, sometimes lyrical, spiked with a dark humor.

I find myself dithering about the rating here. I don't know if it's a book that I can say I enjoyed, or one where the individual stories impressed--I think it's one where the whole is more than its parts, but the repeated (and repetitive) notes of hopelessness ground me down. However, the book did make me think and a time or two broke my heart a little, and I think it'll stay with me.

posted by Lisa_RR_H on May 31, 2010

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I think it'll stay with me

    I feel a bit mixed about this book, which is a collection of 22 connected short stories, some in first and some in third person. The book was on a list of recommended literary fiction. Picking it up, I realized that though I've read many a book by African Americans, several assigned in school, I couldn't recall ever reading a work of fiction by a Native American about Native Americans. I found myself jotting down the unfamiliar or recurring words and themes, wanting to learn more later: frybread, salmon, commodity cheese, alcoholism, diabetes, sweathouse, longhouse, HUD, fancydancing, owldancing, basketball, powwow, tipi, braids, ribbon shirt, five hundred years.

    That glimpse into another world, the world of the Spokane Indian Reservation, is a lot of what kept me reading, but I wondered at times when Alexie was giving us a look behind the stereotypes or playing with them. Especially given the touches of magical realism, I found myself wishing at times this was straight memoir and not (as admitted in the introduction) autobiographically inspired fiction.

    This is a very bleak book--so much of it dealt with drunkenness and alcoholism and the self-destructive behavior it engenders, sprinkled with historical grievance and the experience of present-day bigotry and a terrible poverty. The most upbeat tale in the book revolved around a terminally ill cancer patient: "The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor." Two of the other standouts for me were "Fun House," about a women who finally has had it with the behavior of her husband and son, and "Indian Education." Here's a quote from that story that stuck with me:

    "The farm town high school I play for is nicknamed the "Indians," and I'm probably the only actual Indian ever to play for a team with such a mascot. This morning I pick up the sports page and read the headline: INDIANS LOSE AGAIN. Go ahead and tell me none of this is supposed to hurt me very much."

    I think that's a passage that captures a lot about the book. Clean, spare style, sometimes lyrical, spiked with a dark humor.

    I find myself dithering about the rating here. I don't know if it's a book that I can say I enjoyed, or one where the individual stories impressed--I think it's one where the whole is more than its parts, but the repeated (and repetitive) notes of hopelessness ground me down. However, the book did make me think and a time or two broke my heart a little, and I think it'll stay with me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Imagination meets Ethos

    Mr. Sherman weaves together inter connected stories about the plight of the Native Americans on one particular reservation in the state of Washington. The novel comprises wit and heart wenching testimony from characters like Victor and Thomas about growing up Indian and the poverty they faced. Even though the culture of Native Americans is often mentioned, this book is completley universal. It's at times a coming of age tale, at other points it's historical, and in a few instances, the reader sees magic.
    The prose is brillantly composed in a manner that will quickly engage the reader. If you love short stories, then you will love this. If you hate short stories, this will take some getting use to but you'll quickly see the payoff.
    Also, the last two stories included in the collection make the overall novel all the more poignant.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2006

    Jaded Coin

    The impulse to soldier on is both ruthlessly crushed and highly encouraged on the Spokane reservation. Victor and Thomas represent the stark contrast between relentless destruction and toughened hopefulness of the human spirit. The struggle to hold onto some loose foothold in their past as they pursue their blank futures littered with broken dreams, alcohol, and introspective dreaming. Sherman Alexie¿s Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is both written as a literary novel, and interwoven poetry pounding to the beat of tribal drums and chorusing lines of `John Wayne¿s Teeth.¿ It is hard to tell when the author is being melodramatic, or when a joke, so dry and intensely real, has escaped my attention. It is hard to tell what is meant to be funny and what is meant to rent the soul. I found myself laughing when I should have been crying. Overall, there is no moment greater than Thomas¿s grandstand as the great storyteller of the reservation. Though his stories have been told a thousand times, he has now withdrawn from his silence and returned to his creative genius. He represents part of the character of the novelist in that he wishes to return to a broken, shifting past in order to escape the hypocrisy of his present. Victor represents the other side of the jaded coin. He is angry, thoughtless, and acts out because he feels lost within himself and his environment. He represents the inability of the Native Americans to feel at home in what should have been their country, and the toughness they must exhibit to make it bearable. The two opposing viewpoints are only supported by a slew of characters with which these vivid people are described. When I reflected on the book I was surprised by the sense of detachment I felt. The wicked humor of the writer in his highway weatherman, road trips to phoenix, and flatbread crisis was what made the book bearable when the characters were drowning in their own irony.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hey, Victor!

    I loved reading this book. I admit I was skeptical at first when my teacher gave it to us to read. I think it was the title that made me feel that way, but once I started reading I got lost in the raw stories. I couldn't put it down! There's only one draw back; it can get a bit confusing because you never know who's speaking and each "chapter" is a new story. It will keep you entertained.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2007

    Bad to worse

    This book is primarily about the worst thing that could happen to you if you lived on a reservation. The truth is that this is a small and isolated case and by no means represents the whole Indian population on a reservation

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    A Bittersweet Portrayal of Ordinary Life

    This is the first of Sherman Alexie¿s books that I¿ve read, and admittedly, it was the title that first drew my attention to this book. After all, who can resist at least leafing through a novel with a title like The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven? Reading the book, I was impressed by Alexie¿s writing style and how he mixes poetic sentences like ¿Tonight the mirror will forgive my face¿ with not-so-poetic phrases, such as, ¿ `Shit,¿ Samuel said. It was quickly his favorite word.¿ But what struck me the most about this novel was its characters. Every single person in this book is ordinary. In the world Alexie describes, there are no heroes, no great leaders, no charismatic protagonists. Everyone in these stories is flawed in some way, and these flaws usually are not overcome by the end of the story, as much as the reader would like to see the character triumph over his or her shortcomings. But that¿s what makes the characters real¿their many imperfections and mistakes. And, like real life, there is no happy ending to Alexie¿s novel. Life starts out a certain way in each story, and by the end, not much has changed. But there is a hope for change, buried somewhere beneath the lost dreams and beer bottles that litter the pages of the novel. And it¿s this concealed hope that makes Sherman Alexie¿s book such an incredible read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2006

    funny yet heartbreaking

    This was the first book I read by Alexie and the first book on Native Americans, period. It's a hilarious short story collection about Indians and their struggle to survive in a world that has forgotten them. Alcoholism, broken marriages, abandoned kids, and a government that just doesn't care--these stories about reservation life are extremely funny but also heartbreaking. Alexie has a gift for finding humor in the absurd and sometimes hopeless situations in which Indians find themselves. Start with this collection, then move onto Reservation Blues, which has some of the same characters in it. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2005

    Not just a native perspective

    Alexie's characters are not just native, they are human. So few literary images of the Indian-(Feather, not dot)-Native-American-Indigineous-Person-Noble-Savage portray the depth of character and individuality he does so adeptly. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you may even UNDERSTAND. So what's so funny about peace, love and understanding? In this collection of stories you may find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2003

    Entertaining!

    This really brought me back home in some distubing yet amusing way. Nice change from the very hard to read reality books that I have read. Anyone that have lived on a rez can relate and laught, and truly understand the way of life on the rez with a twist that Alexie is portraying. It was a really fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2003

    If literature could be dessert, this would be toffee cheesecake.

    The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a fresh collection of fond memories that swirl and eddy leaving traces of sunlight dancing lightly upon the page. This incredibly talented writer artfully rips away any protection you may have against the printed word, lays your heart bare, and leaves you wanting more. This book is a hauntingly stark look at life among friends and family with stories of characters who shamelessly flaunt their humanity on parade page after page with no regrets, plenty of laughs, and taking no prisoners except the reader's heart. Once you have read this book, you will want to read more of Sherman Alexie's work, and, fortunately, it is in abundance as he is a prolific author of the most contemporary persuasion. If there is one book that must be read, it is this one. You will find yourself laughing out loud, relating, and reading these stories again. This work is a crowning jewel of literary accomplishment. Sherman Alexie makes words sit up, roll over, and beg to be read. He has taught them tricks that will astound and amaze you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    If Literature could be dessert, this would be toffee cheesecake.

    The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a fresh collection of fond memories that swirl and eddy leaving traces of sunlight dancing lightly upon the page. This incredibly talented writer artfully rips away any protection you may have against the printed word, lays your heart bare, and leaves you wanting more. This book is a hauntingly stark look at life among friends and family with stories of characters who shamelessly flaunt their humanity on parade page after page with no regrets, plenty of laughs, and taking no prisoners except the reader¿s heart. Once you have read this book, you will want to read more of Sherman Alexie¿s work, and, fortunately, it is in abundance as he is a prolific author of the most contemporary persuasion. If there is one book that must be read, it is this one. You will find yourself laughing out loud, relating, and reading these stories again. This work is a crowning jewel of literary accomplishment. Sherman Alexie makes words sit up, roll over, and beg to be read. He has taught them tricks that will astound and amaze you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2002

    a good first collection

    alexie's first collection is a pretty good one. the stories are generally short and all are interrelated. it's the strongest work he's done, and likely always will be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2001

    Everyone read this book!

    This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. Sherman Alexie's voice is so unique and compelling. The stories are woven to perfectly with emotion and humor that I'll laugh and cry at the same time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2002

    Very Inspiring

    This book is one of the greatest books that I have ever read. It is a little confusing at some times and it's a real eye-opener to the lives of Indians on plantatio

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2001

    Fabulous Voice Carrying on Tradition

    Sherman Alexie has single-handedly roped my heart and turned my eyes toward the history and tradition of Native Americans. The voices in this series of stories are all distinct but resonate the overwhelming spirit of a trouble nation. I first heard about Alexie on '60 Minutes News', now I'm scrambling to read more of his books. Great read and educational experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2000

    the writer i want to be

    one day, a critic will read one of my books and will mention that i write a little like sherman alexie. my apologies to mr. alexie for when this happens. i began reading your work two days ago. i believe 'the lone ranger and tonto fistfight in heaven' is the finest book written in the last ten years. adam rynkiewich. author of 'hogslen

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2000

    'Humorous stories from on the Res.'

    This is an outstanding book that is packed full of humor.I got this book for christmas along with 'Reservation Blues' and I just can't lay it down. I have read it about 7 times now!I have lived on a Reservation before and this book tells the truth. There are good sides and bads sides. I loved the chapter on Indian Education.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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