Experiences with Sherman Alexie

For about a year now I have been reading some of Sherman Alexie’s works and he continues to impress me each and every time. I am for some reason or another almost caught off guard by his ability to draw in a reader while using personal language and experiences and then somehow suddenly he amazingly pulls back and drops you, catching you off guard. No more inside jokes or stories it’s like he doesn’t even know you anymore and therefore you question the experience. It’s absolutely brilliant. Alexie is raw in the way he writes and tells stories.  While reading some of his pieces especially the article we read in class entitled, “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Me,” you see how Alexie demonstrates this technique. Where he draws you in by telling you personal stories of experiences he had as a boy and then quickly brushes you off. For example I keep rereading the part of the essay when Alexie recounts a part of his childhood when he knew his father was going to go off and abandon them for a while. Alexie brings his readers in and slaps us in the face with copious amounts of emotion when talking about following his father around the house even to the bathroom to try and keep him from leaving them again. At this point I was hooked. I began to feel like I knew Alexie and could see what he was about to happen, but then Alexie does what he does best. The essay picks back up with a woman crying at hearing Alexie story (years later) he then quickly points out that she should stop crying and points to the man sitting next to her saying, “ But that’s my father sitting right next to you.” Alexie’s technique is really fascinating and I think should be studied more.  The way he uses experience is just right one. This essay was perfect to read while also thinking about the toolkit in out Autobiography book. The toolkit talked a lot about experiences and identity and so did Alexie.

In the particular essay talked about above one can also pick up on just how many audiences Alexie is speaking too and how many voices he uses to tell his story. His voices or tones are all over the place. This helps him achieve what I was talking about. The way he can bring a reader in close by using a personal voice or tone and then completely flipping to a sarcastic one with out even a heads up. Sometimes Alexis’s tone has even come off bitter. Especially when he asks his readers sometimes-personal questions about their own experiences. I’m thinking of imparticular when Alexie asks how many times you have been in a room with people that don’t look like you or talk like you? Alexie knows his audiences too. I think he knows he will be talking to all kinds of people when he publishes his works. People from various “In-din” tribes, other writers, whites, blacks, Hispanics, the educated, the not so…. He reaches a broad audience and does a brilliant job at speaking to each one of them in a way that only Alexie can do.

P.S. For anyone that would like to learn more about Sherman Alexie and his books, essays, and movies, check out his official website.

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