Sherman Alexie’s “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” is a collection of short stories or vignettes about life on an Indian reservation. He uses his own experiences on the reservation and changes the names of the people or sometimes exaggerates the story. This book is a must read that I would highly recommend to anyone who likes realistic, satirical writing.
Sherman Alexie was born Wellpinit Washington on an Indian reservation. He was born with a condition called Hydrocephalus and was not expected to survive, he has several stories that mention this. Sherman Alexie was a good student and in eighth grade transferred to the local farm high school, Reardan High School, where the only other Indian was the schools mascot. He did very well in high school and graduated top of his class. He went to Gonzaga University in 1985, a Jesuit college in Spokane Washington. Sherman later transferred to Washington University where he started writing poetry and short stories.
All of the stories in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven are loosely based on Sherman or people in his life. The book touches upon racism, poverty, and alcoholism that plague the Indian community. In the passage A Drug Called Tradition two Indian teens go and try a new drug. In this passage Sherman Alexie describes what it is like to be an Indian adolescent with conflicting aspects of your life. The old traditions of their ancestors conflicting with modern aspects of life. For example one of the boys is a storyteller who the other two ask to tell them stories, then after he tells a couple of stories that don’t make sense, about the past and how they are warriors on horses. They tell him to shut up and they go back to talking. This is describing how they want to know about the past and at the same time are scared about what it might be.
In the passages of, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” Sherman Alexie’s use of satirical humor makes the various stories palatable. Without any the humor the stories would be sad without the humor. Sherman Alexie’s dry witted comedy goes a long way in making the book good. It is hard to put a label on the kind of book that, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” is. It is some parts autobiography some parts fiction and some parts non-fiction. If it was written about events further in the past I think it might even be correct to call it historical fiction.
The book has many different characters that all help tell in the overarching story of the book. The different character almost meld together throughout the book so it’s hard to tell that there are different narrators in different stories. The different narrators all have the same feel to them and they have the same personality. But they give the book a lot more depth by creating different perspectives to look back on some of the other narrators, this style of writing lets you see a lot more of the story than just having one narrator would.
This is a very good book that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a good slow-paced novel that is on the heavier side. It is not a light read but one that I would highly recommend reading, especially if you have previously read and enjoyed any other pieces of Sherman Alexie’s work and you want to read more. This book is a collection of fictional vignettes loosely based on the authors experiences. I would say that you should not read this book if you are under the age of sixteen, due to some of the graphic content. All in all this is an exceptional book that I would highly recommend to anyone to pick up.
Title: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Author: Sherman Alexie
Number Of Pages: 242
Publisher: Grove Press
Published: January 1st 1993