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Books

Cover for Reservation Blues
Reservation Blues
Sherman Alexie
A blues legend running from his overdue debt to the devil happens on the Spokane Indian reservation and brings with him a new way to wring meaning and joy from the short end of the white man's stick.
Why We Love It
Sherman Alexie's first novel, winner of the American Book Award, introduces us to the contemporary reservation in all its fatalism and despair, its grind of daily indignities. The powdered milk that never dissolves. The health clinic that does nothing but dispense condoms and dental floss.

And yet, like all the best blues music, this novel is a celebration - of endurance, of hope, of the human ability to make art out of even the darkest legacies. It is a playful, profound, and very funny read. And, no matter which side of the story we come from, it reflects us back to ourselves in entirely unexpected ways.

Cover for My Ántonia
My Ántonia
Willa Cather
Orphaned Jim Burden arrives in Nebraska to live with his grandparents and develops a fascination with a beautiful farm girl recently arrived from Bohemia. Drawn to Ántonia through several decades, Jim details his memory of a romance made all the more poignant for never being consummated.
Why We Love It
75 years before Sherman Alexie introduced us to the reservation, Willa Cather introduced American readers to the first generation of pioneers to settle the red grasses of the Indian's prairie. Their stoicism and despair, their inspiring large-mindedness and startling pettiness, are also the story of a country becoming a mature nation.

And yet everywhere in this novel there are subtle reminders, almost like ghosts haunting the pages, that this land is "new country" only to some and that Manifest Destiny had victims long before the loneliness and harshness of prairie life claimed its first pioneers. Reading these books side by side, one gets the sense that if Jim Burden and Thomas-Builds-a-Fire could have met, they'd have told each other the sort of stories that might have healed a continent.