Category Archives: Books

DEAR: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Stop, drop, roll yourself to a copy of this book.  You need to read it right now.  I’ll wait.

You didn’t actually read it yet, did you?  Liar.

It is something that escapes my mind quite often, but Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite writers.  The “Diary” is his first Young Adult book, which is to say “Book for all ages over 11.”  Everyone should read this book, Let me tell you.

It is about a young man named Arnold Spirit, Jr and his adjustment to a white school.  He is fed up with the Reservation school and realizes that if he is to be successful, he needs to go to a better school.  He goes.  He is successful.  That’s really not about it.

Alexie has always been a great resource to learn about Indian life.  He doesn’t tell us about dancing and ceremonies, rather, he tells us about life.  What you actually feel like when you are an American Indian.  The sense of lost hope.  The cultural identity being thrown out the window.  How much it can really suck.  But also, how amazing it can be – at the best of times.

Arnold gets through his days by drawing cartoons.  It’s hard not to compare this book to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”  “Wimpy” is just a fun romp with no seriousness or lessons learned, though.  “Indian” has lessons a-plenty for those willing to read them.  Don’t give up.  Take chances.  Have hope.  Grab life by the balls whenever you can.

And Arnold succeeds.  The story is semi-autobiographical of Alexie’s own youth.  He did some of these things.  Arnold becomes a star basketball player, he finds a hot sometime-girlfriend, he makes real, true friends with the people around him.  And people around him die.  He is blunt and forward about it and we see what life on a reservation is really like.

He also captures what is like for anyone, anywhere to grow up.  Arthur faces challenges he shouldn’t have to, but so do a lot of people.  Our challenges are generally nowhere near Arthur’s, but we face them and can learn from Arthur’s stoic attitude.  He doesn’t run away from difficult decisions.  He makes them.

It is sad to think that this book will probably be banned in some towns.  There’s some fairly “inappropriate” stuff in here.  You know.  Things adolescents actually need help dealing with.  Thank God for Librarians.  Did you know that most Librarians are extremely opposed to taking books off the shelf?  But that’s another post.

Ramblings of a Genius or What to Read?

Well, it’s that time in my life again. I am having trouble finding something to read. I am currently looking at some books, but not really reading them. After blazing through the Percy Jackson books – new one in May! – and a few others, it just hasn’t been rolling.

I read Be Cool by Elmore Leonard a week or so ago and really enjoyed it. A month ago, actually. Elmore Leonard was first brought to my attention about a year ago by a guy who described him as a “guilty pleasure.” I really find Leonard to be a very good writer, though. He doesn’t waste language. Why then, don’t I read more of his work? Meh. I don’t know.

I am looking at Gulliver’s Travels, another book about talking to kids, The Portable MFA, a book on nature crafts, and a few others. I read the first book in the Underland chronicles. It was a bit boring but a kid at Skyline assures me they get more exciting. I’m on a non-fiction kick I think. So I should probably get a good non-fiction book. But what to get? I find it harder to get a good non-fiction. Perhaps Nickel and Dimed will be a good choice. Can you believe I haven’t read it yet?

In other news, writing is continuing. Not a lot. I am happy that I’ve kept up with the April poetry. Unfortunately, most of the poems are written around 11:30 when I say to myself: “Dang! I haven’t written my poem today!” So, we’ll see what happens.

Later this week (I hope) I’ll post a Ded Jimmy poem with illy-strations. “Cthulu” is a poem about Ded Jimmy’s pet. Named “Cthulu.” I enjoy this stuff because it’s fun. Which is what writing should be.

Speaking of the fun of writing and Elmore Leonard: He has published a book called Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing or something like that. It’s a pretty good breakdown of ten good guidelines for writing. The ones people break all the time.

I have been a bit active on Critique Circle, a website for critiquing, and it is not as good as it could be. I haven’t really been earning respect, though. I need to be on their more, I suppose. I keep getting critiques that are good – but the same as my college classes. On the other side of the coin, I haven’t really submitted a rough draft for anything. So that’s that.

Which leads me to Elmore’s rules. People break ’em all the time. And not in a good way. Writers are so full of language, it’s crazy. Writers need to be more efficient with language – myself included.

I have some thoughts on movies.  But I think I’ll do another post for that.