Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flight By Sherman Alexie


I absolutely adore Sherman Alexie, and I have to admit that I've been wanting to read Flight for quite some time, not necessarily because of his engaging writing skills but because the cover art for this book is so bad looking. A bull's eye with a loose-panted, single-feathered Native American silhouette holding two huge guns. Wow. That's pretty bold.

And, from the opening line of "Call me Zits", Alexie delivers. It's an unusual sort of plot, inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, where the main character travels back and forth through time. I've read and taught Slaughterhouse Five several times and have always found it to be a rewarding but challenging experience. I feel like Alexie's Flight is far less challenging but still rewarding.

The main character of this story is a half Native, half Irish orphan who has some serious acne and anger issues. Zits is not connected to anyone or anyplace, and is dangerously on edge. On the verge of committing a serious crime, Zits starts to travel through time to experience the history of Native Americans and mass murder through a variety of perspectives. And, it is the variety of perspectives that makes this novel so profound. After a few trips in Zit's time-traveling shoes, you begin to see that there was no "right" in our history but a whole lot of "wrong"-- on both sides. Alexie does not point fingers but encourages us to think about our own past. What have we done to hurt others? What can we change about ourselves to help others?

This is an entertaining, insightful read. You can find it in my office and check it out for free reading/ SSR.

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