The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie (Published in 1993)
This is the first book of fiction written by a Native American that I ever read and it was a mind-opening experience! I had read about Indians and their (our) history, but reading a collection of short stories set in the present day surprised the daylights out of me.
I had always felt alone in the world; one of my brothers, Joe, was also adopted and an Indian, although of a different tribe, so as children it always felt like him and me against the world. I never saw other Indians, and probably like a lot of other people, I think I assumed all Indians lived on reservations. Since then I’ve read many more of Sherman Alexie’s novels, heard him speak in person and on radio interviews; he’s not only a great author … he’s a great comedic speaker. His voice was the first voice that spoke to me from native America.
The stories in this book became the basis of one of my favorite movies, Smoke Signals, which was just entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2018 for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant and thus recommended for preservation.”
It’s a story of a father and son, a road trip movie, a coming of age movie; it’s sad and very funny. I watched the movie seven or eight times in this past year and as great as the movie is, the book is much better!
My choice of music is “Father and Farther”, by Jim Boyd and Sherman Alexie – as heard in the movie Smoke Signals.