Several weeks ago I walked over to my local library branch and checked out the new literary effort by Sherman Alexie. Considering this was just a few days after he had received the prestigious Faulkner/Pen award, I was surprised to find that the book was still on the shelf, but there it was. I guess I should draw some kind of conclusion about the reading habits of people in my hometown, Portland (ME) or the popularity of Alexie or the importance of the award, but I don’t know what to say so I’ll let in go.
However, the book was a very interesting read and perhaps a bit of a disappointment after having recently read The Autobiography of a Part-time Indian. For those who enjoy good old-fashioned storytelling, then “Autobiography” might be just the book for you. It’s an engrossing story and it is easy to speculate how this recently published novel might have swayed the jury.
Stylistically, War Dances is just the opposite. It is a mixture of poems and short stories that jumps all over the place in location and meaning. Still the seemingly unrelated potpourri of written material comes across very well and still gives the reader a lot to ponder and enjoy.
After having read the book, I was a little puzzled that the book earned an award. Not because of its content, but for the reason that the text covered so many different events. I guess some modern juries are more willing to take a chance with unorthodox writing than I realized.