320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.84 in
February 7, 2005
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0802141900
ISBN - 13: 9780802141903
About the Book
In this bestselling winner of the American Book Award, the life of Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire irrevocably changes when blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on his reservation and passes the misfit storyteller his enchanted guitar.
From the Publisher
"Many may remember the tale of Robert Johnson, the musician who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads in exchange for being the best blues guitarist around.
What many may not know is that after this tragic deal in Mississippi, Johnson ended up in a small town on the Spokane Indian reservation in Washington state-at least that's how author Sherman Alexie tells it.
In his new book Reservation Blues, Alxie spins the fictional tale of Johnson's adventure at a new crossroads, this one in a small town called Wellpinit, Wash. It is here that he comes to seek out Big Mom, a local medicine woman, and, in so doing, leaves his famous guitar in the hands of misfit storyteller Thomas Builds-the-Fire.
Builds-the-Fire, brought back from Alexie's last book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, takes up Johnson's magical guitar and, along with Victor Joseph, Junior Polatkin and two Flathead Indian sisters named Chess and Checkers, goes on to build a reservation blues band that takes the Northwest by storm...
As the band plays club after club, Alexie uses music as a crosscultural bridge, without compromising the cultural integrity of his characters. The band members seem to take on the gamut of problems faced by Indians on the reservation today, battling everything from alcoholism to violence, political corruption to sexual abuse.
Ghosts from the past, both personal and historical haunt the musicians, serving both to hold them back and urge them on. It would seem that the scars of abuse run deep." (The Commercial Appeal, June 11, 1995)
About the Author
Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane. Approximately 1,100 Spokane Tribal members live there. Alexie's father is a Coeur d'Alene Indian, and his mother is a Spokane Indian.
Born hydrocephalic, with water on the brain, Alexie underwent a brain operation at the age of 6 months and was not expected to survive. When he did beat the odds, doctors predicted he would live with severe mental retardation. Though he showed no signs of this, he suffered severe side effects, such as seizures and uncontrollable bed-wetting, throughout his childhood. In spite of all this, Alexie learned to read by age three, and devoured novels, such as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath,by age five. All these things ostracized him from his peers and he was often the brunt of other kids' jokes on the reservation.
As a teenager, after finding his mother's name written in a textbook he was assigned at the Wellpinit school, Alexie made a conscious decision to attend high school off the reservation in Reardan, WA, where he knew he would get a better education. At Reardan High he was "the only Indian... except for the school mascot." There he excelled academically and became a star player on the basketball team.
He graduated from Reardan High and went on to attend Gonzaga University in Spokane on scholarship in 1985. After two years at Gonzaga, he tran