I’ve been reading, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” — a short story collection by Sherman Alexie. He is one of my friend Juliann’s favorite authors. This was such a quick and shocking read. I very much enjoyed it.
Alexie describes frankly the disparities of living on the reservation and the cliches that haunt his people. He writes, “It is hard to be optimistic on the reservation. When a glass sits on the table here, people don’t wonder if it’s half filled or half empty. They just hope it’s good beer. Still, Indians have a way of surviving. But it’s almost like Indians can easily survive the big stuff. Mass murder, loss of language and land rights. It’s the small things that hurt the most. The white waitress who wouldn’t take an order, Tonto, the Washington Redskins.”
In another story, when a police officer offers a Indian child a piece of candy, disease bubbles to the surface. “I’m sorry, Detective Clayton,” my father said. “But my son and I are diabetics.” “Oh, sorry,” the detective said and looked at us with sad eyes. Especially at me. Juvenile diabetes. A tough life. I learned how to use a hypodermic needle before I could ride a bike… The detective looked at us both like he didn’t believe it. All he knew was crinimals and how they worked. He must have figured diabetes worked like a criminal, breaking and entering. But he had it wrong. Diabetes is just like a lover, hurting you from the inside. I was closer to my diabetes than to any of my family or friends. Even when I was all alone, quiet, thinking, wanting no company at all, my diabetes was there. That’s the truth.”