Susan Berry Brill de Ramirez: General Criticism on Sherman Alexie

Alexie's poems and stories in First Indian on the Moon embrace both discursive and conversive styles in a conjunction that is inevitably disjunctive, disconcerting, and effective in communicating his worlds and words. Alexie . . . writes in a powerful voice that speaks of the realities of worlds that continually push each other to the point of discursive and actual implosion. Whether the results are burning cars, a trailer fire, alcoholism, domestic or racial violence, smallpox blankets, broken treaties, or human alienation, the process is always the same: The clash of worlds that rarely gives more than temporary (and in fact illusory) respite from the unfulfilled dreams and lived pain that is on either side of the divide. . . .

Throughout Alexie’s writing, he displays a critically discursive stance against virtually anyone and anything. This is an equal opportunity anger that perceives both the weaknesses and failures of both Indian and white worlds. . . . Alexie lives and writes on the interstices between the divergent stories of both worlds, what he refers to as "the in-between / between tipi and HUD house / between magic and loss" (43). . . .

And yet, the interstice is not only a place of pain and anguish, but also a place in which lives are born and lived with joy as well as pain. When human lives come together in the loves and joys of fancydancers, basketball player, and lovers, then the conversive magic of human interrelationships transforms the interstice into the here and now as meaningful as any. . . . The reservation dreams of fancydancers and basketball players are the same dreams of all human beings trapped within the discursive lies of oppositional relations, relative (in) significance, subjective power, and objective weakness. . . . The dreams of treaties that won’t be broken, the dreams of loves that will mend the torn weavings of broken relationships and families, the dreams of the conversive power of myth, all these survive even beyond the pain of loss. . . .

From Contemporary American Indian Literatures & the Oral Tradition, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999, 190–93.


Title Susan Berry Brill de Ramirez: General Criticism on Sherman Alexie Type of Content General Poet Criticism
Criticism Author Susan Berry Brill de Ramirez Criticism Target Sherman Alexie
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 12 Jan 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Contemporary American Indian Literatures & the Oral Tradition
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