Book Review: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Book Review: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie 4 Stars **** (1993, 2005, Prologue 2013) (Adult and mature Young Adult)

It’s impossible not to hear the underlying plaintive cries of this book that presents itself as a work of fiction when it captures the very essence of people who have lost their once proud cultural identity and are hardpressed to find something to replace it. This book is a collection of inter-connected short stories that won the PEN/Hemingway Award. The award winning movie Smoke Signals, released in 1998, is based on the short story “What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” from this book.

Set in the late 20th century on an Indian reservation in Spokane, Washington, we meet a group of people beset by poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, racism, and isolationism from the society outside their reservation. Further complicated by limited education, unstable and absent parenting and home life, a lack of positive role models, and a fear of the unknown outside world, the characters go in circles with the nothingness of their lives. Ambition and challenge are short-lived with characters reverting to their comfort zone of doing nothing and going nowhere. The reader has a sense of time standing still. Nothing changes—it only has the appearance of change.

Victor is one of the main characters of the stories. The significance of the title may revolve around him and his message. The Lone Ranger represents the white man and Tonto represents the Indians. Victor, who is a Spokane Indian, and his girlfriend, who is white, attempt to coexist and love each other but fight constantly in a doomed relationship. As with The Lone Ranger and Tonto, there is respect and appreciation for each other but the two worlds rarely overlap with their different cultures, expectations, and coping mechanisms. Neither side wants to be like the other. Add this to personal weaknesses, and in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

The beginning chapters of this book contain some of the most beautiful, imagistic, evocative writing I’ve ever encountered with a command of language that is exceptional. As the reader approaches the end, the writing becomes inconsistent as if the author stopped trying or caring and just put anything down on paper to fill space. Is this a metaphor for the lives and human condition about which the author writes?

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Book Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Book Review: Try Not to Breathe (2016 )by Holly Seddon 4 Stars ****

I had to read this book since it’s recommended by Tess Gerritsen, an author whose early work captured my attention. Many plot twists and red herrings. The surprises never stop. Well-written. Engaging. Maybe a little too long getting to the point? Published in 2016, it is similar in format and characterizations to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (2012) , Dangerous Habits by Susan Hunter (2014), and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On the Train (2015). This format seems to lead to success, so if you like the other books, you will like this one.

Alcoholic freelance journalist Alex Dale has done herself in—destroying her marriage, losing her job, and jeopardizing her other relationships—with her excessive drinking. No one knows what to believe. People don’t perceive Alex as reliable. Is she hallucinating, confused, or just fabricating stories for attention? Alex’s current assignment leads her to a neuro-disability unit in a hospital where the patients are in various degrees of brain damage and unable to communicate except for the few who can visualize scenes as instructed to indicate a yes or a no answer to a question posed by a doctor. For example, a brain scan can detect a yes answer when the patient imagines playing a tennis match. Even though unable to communicate verbally or by eye blinks, an interviewer can determine a patient’s positive and negative responses.

Having just been fired for her drunken behavior and working on her own time, Alex is determined to win recognition for solving the mystery of the brutal beating that left fifteen year old Amy Stevenson for dead fifteen years ago. Amy is a patient in the facility where brain scans can be interpreted to tell the story of the past. Since Amy’s attacker has never been identified, Alex jumps at the opportunity to vindicate herself in the eyes of the world and throws herself into this investigation. Step by step, Alex conducts interviews with people from all walks of life as she pores over old news stories and gains new information with each new comment and observation offered by those who are unaware of the importance of what they know. Alex struggles to put it all together until the facts check out, and a clear picture emerges. Sometimes the truth is hidden in plain sight. If you look without prejudging, you just might see it. Fifteen years after the tragedy, the culprit is brought to justice as Alex finds strength within herself to fight off the demons that once characterized  and destroyed her.

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

 

Saturday, March 14, 2020- Barnes & Noble, Massapequa, NY 12:00-4:00pm

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