Sherman Alexie makes me want to write. Though when I tell people about this Nez Perce American Indian author I always get excited and tell people that they should read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven first. And they ask who the author is and I always respond “Alexie Sherman, no, no, I mean Sherman Alexie.”
From my time working at the library I have to view the placement of his books in my mind to get his name right. His books were right there by the large print, the beginning of the alphabet by Auster and Acito, not by the Fantasy section which was the end of the alphabet, his book jackets don’t’ rub elbows with Shelley or Sheldon.
You should read Sherman Alexie. He is a wonderful writer. Why? Because he is. His words are so poetic and sad and funny at the same time. He wrote a poem and to this day one phrase keeps me company when I worry about our teens reading dusky literary drivel.
“I miss standing in the mosquito dark.”
Oh it flows off my tongue with rapture, mosquito dark. Lovely, earthy, well written.
He writes with the ambition, betrayal, exhaustion and history of a culture on his shoulders. He writes with his heart on his feet, dancing to rhythmic songs the young guffaw at and the old treasure.
He writes with purpose and tries to define no one but himself.
He writes and may have mistakenly found himself in the same boat as John Cougar Mellencamp. (I still use the ‘Cougar’ even if he doesn’t. John set up his place in my heart as Cougar.) Alexie might find himself in the same boat, an artist who never set out to be a voice of a people, a culture, a generation, yet here he is.
What would that be like? To croon a love song on the page for ghosts. To wish the prosperity of creation myths. To will the betterment of a race. To dance the night away for the beat of one ancient drum. To blink and breathe and listen and reach and speak for America’s dirty little secret?
What would it be like to be a voice of anything? Do I have a voice of my generation? Someone claimed it was Kurt Cobain at one point and I don’t agree with that. It’s not that I don’t agree, I just refuse to accept someone as himself as my voice for my generation. If that were the case, what’s next? Jay-Z running for a government position all because he wrote a book? Actually, he had his book ghost written. Well, he is calling it co-authored, by Dream Hampton. Apparently she was paid a large chunk of cash to write his book Decoded.
Do people really think these celebrities are writing their own books? If you scour the pages hard enough you will find a place where all those books admit there dirty little secrets, that indeed, said book was written by ‘so and so as told by the celebrity whose name appears on the cover of this book.’
Even Russell Brand’s book was written by a ghost writer. I thought maybe he might have written his own book. It’s filthy, dirty and indulgently sprinkled with twenty five dollar words. Alas, such is the veil Hollywood is cloaked in.
I want a writing career of my own but do I need one enough that I would ever ghost write a book for a star? Maybe John Cougar Mellencamp, but that’s it.
I am not the voice of a generation, a culture, a family, a race, a gender or even a creed. I am the voice of myself. I don’t think I could be more than that. I am the voice of my own dirty little secrets; a girl has to have something to write about, right?
While I wait for the curtain to lift on my own fifteen minutes of fame, I read authors who make me want to write and I tell friends, you have to read Alexie Sherman, I mean, Sherman Alexie.