“Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don’t wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is.” ― Sherman Alexie (Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven)
With the severity of the Native American plight, escapism is a very realistic and practical defense against misery. This is quite evident in Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven. In this novel, Alexie captures an elaborate depiction of reservation life. The characters are terminally suspended in the abyss commonly known as the Spokane Indian Reservation. As Alexie catalogs their hardships, the characters of the novel indulge in the comforts of alcoholism and unbridled imagination. Through alcoholism, the character Thomas Builds-The-Fire uses the depths of his own creative mind to hide himself in the past.
There is a commonality among the reservation Indians in the novel that centers on alcoholism. The men and women of the Spokane Indian Reservation see their world largely through a thick, alcoholic haze. Drinking is a powerful defense against the stark reality that nothing ever changes on the reservation. In this state of shared depression, this familiar stupor, the reservation Indians cloak themselves in sorrow. If the characters were unable to mend their hardships in reality, through alcohol they most certainly could bend their perceptions of truth. There are several instances throughout the novel in which Alexie describes alcoholic experiences as a positive means of escape. For example, in All I Wanted To Do Was Dance, Victor looks over to his drunken parents and “Everything was familiar and welcome. Everything was beautiful” (87). The warmth of the alcoholic embrace was apparently comforting to Victor, and he goes on to say that his father would “sit with a cooler of beer beside him…his bad breath and body odor covering me like a blanket.”(26). In Every Little Hurricane, Victor depicts his father drinking in a dream; Victor describes the alcohol as “near poison” and a “reservation tsunami”, using very negative connotations. Yet, Victor also portrays his Father as being bold while drunk, with statements like “[He] wasn’t shaped like a question mark…more like an exclamation point” (6). Victor reflects in hindsight that “He thought one more beer could save the world.”(88). So, throughout the novel, Sherman Alexie perpetuates this duality of notions toward alcoholism.
Though alcohol brought release, it also leeched away the sweet vitality of the reservation Indians. In the novel, drinking only serves to ruin relationships, twist lives and magnify their difficulties. Sherman Alexie brings this reality into full view by coupling this theme with every drunken interlude. For example, “I…wished I was drunk enough to pull the trigger” (43). “I got drunk…so I wouldn’t be scared.”(112) and “With every glass of beer…he began to understand too much about fear and failure” (134). These passages indicate not only the reality of such a grim comfort but also a continually deteriorating cycle within the Spokane Indian society.
“The good old days, when each idea had an owner, are gone forever.” – Paulo Coehlo
I recently got into a bit of a row with a fellow blogger over Flash Fiction, the literary genre that is usually between 500 and 1000 words. Is a thousand words really too long or is our attention span getting much shorter? Can we squeeze a good story into the space of a tweet, or do we want a chunky tome to set us back a good week or two?
There’s got to be a middle ground.
I remember 10 years ago when a friend told me that a 5,000 word story was too long. Then, 5 years ago that same friend said my award-winning 2,500 word story – A Fight for Life was too long.
I get it: we’re all hopped up on energy drinks and scrolling through social media so fast that we couldn’t bare to sit still for 15 minutes and just read. Crazy, right?!
So, here’s a challenge: I’m giving away FREE short stories to celebrate the release of my Flash Fiction collection, appropriately titled IN A FLASH. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the stories themselves and the genre of Flash Fiction, as well. To get your FREE stories, just visit my publisher’s website – CLICK HERE.
You can also buy the book if you like; it costs less than a latte.
It seems like social media has taken gossip to a whole new level these days. Who doesn’t pop in every now and then to spy on their enemies and exes? I was inspired to write a poem about it called “Gossip”. The poem was recently featured on TheSocialPoet.com. Also, be sure to grab a copy of my poetry collection “Words to Describe”. You can find it at Yonda House for just £3.99.
Gossipers on the corner
Fill their lips with the latest lament,
With tongues brimming
Yet never sinning against themselves.
So eloquently they speak of others
In the city’s gutters,
Instinctively passing over mirrors
As they pillage and contaminate
The reputations of those most hated.
A scandalous whisper floats unaided.
Despite being loathed as taboo,
Nearly everyone flirts with the idea of “Who Saw Who.”
Perhaps they too, have been victimized
At once, also lamented and despised,
Yet once they reached the street corner
Forgot what was wise,
By not shutting their ears to these novelty spies.
Why preach, when all can participate in idle ways?
In truth, we all speak ill
Directed at our neighbor for a momentary thrill.
It’s a game. It’s a joke.
Well, isn’t it anyway?
A bit of innocent fun to waste away the day.
– Frederick S. Blackmon