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Paperback The Business of Fancydancing Book

ISBN: 0914610007

ISBN13: 9780914610007

The Business of Fancydancing

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Book Overview

Poetry. Fiction. Published in 1992, well before Sherman Alexie became well-known as the screenwriter for the film SMOKE SIGNALS, THE BUSINESS OF FANCYDANCING has now been turned into a film with none other than Alexie himself in his directorial debut. The screenplay for the movie, which recently won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, is loosly adapted from this book. Many film-goers will want to visit or revisit the elegaic poems...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

a great introduction to Alexie's writing

After reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian last summer, I decided to work my way through Alexie's oeuvre since I had already also read and enjoyed Reservation Blues. Two short story collections and one novel later, I was done. Not in that my task was completed but in that I couldn't take anymore. Then The Business of Fancydancing came into my possession after waiting about six months for it. Unwilling to let the book go after waiting so long for it, I decided to see what the first page was like. Ten hours later I had finished it. The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems is Alexie's first published work (from 1991). As the subtitle suggests, the book is considered a collection of stories and poems. However, since most of the stories are less than five pages I think a fair argument could be made that the five stories are actually prose poems instead of stories. That might just be me though. Like any of Alexie's other writing, this collection includes instances of beauty as well as sadness. In the opening story "Travels" a hungry youth is told to make a jam sandwich by taking two slices of bread and jamming them together (unless a wish sandwich is more to his liking). This image recurs often in the collection. After reading The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Toughest Indian in the World, I must admit I had my doubts about Alexie's short stories--they never seemed as engaging as his novels. That isn't a problem here even though all of the stories are much shorter than anything found in his later collections. Very like the poems, Alexie's stories here are bare bones. Instead of full stories (in the sense of having a conventional plot) most are vignettes painting brief, eloquent pictures of what life can mean for a Spokane Indian on and off the reservation. The bulk of The Business of Fancydancing is comprised of poems. The English major in my wants to make some kind of comparison to illustrate what these poems are like, but no quick comparisons come to mind. Suffice it say, the lines are long and the poems deeply grounded in the concrete. One of my favorites in the collection is "Distances" which is literally a series of vignettes along with aphorisms like "Remember this: 'Electricity is lightning pretending to be permanent.'" Familiar characters who turn up in one of Alexie's later story collections as well as Reservation Blues also make their first appearances here. Thomas Builds-The-Fire, a personal favorite, even has a story all to himself. I don't know how illustrative this book is of Alexie's current style since his latest work has been novels, but that detail aside The Business of Fancydancing is a superb collection of poetry and serves as a good introduction to Sherman Alexie and his unique style/themes without the visceral, harsh details so often found in his newer writing.

introspective

Probably my favorite Alexie poetry book. This book also contains short stories, the meager beginnings of "The Lone Ranger and Tonto..." novel he was soon to write. Prepare to transport yourself into Alexie's world and share pain, joy and frustration, but prepare to walk away wounded, battled and bruised as you find yourself falling deeper and deeper into an introspective study of self.

Image-rich collection should transform your view of world

The Business of Fancydancing is a collection that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up while you laugh, cry and stare at the written page with stunned amazement. Alexie uses language as a paintbrush, creating a complex mosaic of life growing up Indian and walking through a world that is not quite yours. The author slashes at stereotypes of what it is to be an American Indian. All too real tragedy and pain is laced with black humor, revealing a poet/essayist who I sincerely hope rises to be a Steinbeck of his generation.Those who consider themselves New Age may not care to venture into this work unless thick-skinned and self-aware. Then again, maybe the children of the New Age SHOULD read this remarkable window on the world of Sherman Alexie. Enjoy.
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