Customer Reviews for

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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...
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.

posted by AK95 on October 10, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 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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  • 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 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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    Posted January 18, 2010

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted June 12, 2009

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    Posted October 4, 2013

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