The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven: A Brief Look at Some Poemish Prose

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I still don’t understand this cover

 The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a book of short stories by Sherman Alexie. The stories detail life on a Spokane Indian reservation, and the quiet struggles of those who live there.

It took a long time for me to write my review of this book, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how I felt, or what it meant. The stories explored many complicated themes, and expressed the author’s great understanding of the human condition. But there were certain stories where I couldn’t connect to the characters, or had no clue what point the author was trying to make.

The writing was beautiful, of course. Alexie is a lovely and poetic author. His metaphors and similes are intelligent and relatable. It is easy for the reader to see that he had only previously published a book of poems. Many of the stories were very good. Each one was a brief snapshot of someone on the reservation’s life.  Some of them, though, were hard to comprehend, or were not very interesting.

I especially liked “The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore.” This story was about two friends discussing a talented young basketball player named Julian. They express their hope that he will escape the reservation’s cycle of poverty. The story then jumps forward to a year later. The two men are discussing Julian again, but now, he is an alcoholic and has lost most of his talent. The story captured the vicious cycle of alcoholism and how dispiriting it is to the people on the reservation.

This is a much shorter review than normal, because I have far less to say. I rank this book somewhere between a Good and Very Good. It was beautiful, but not consistently.