Reviews for Face
by Sherman Alexie
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Alexie is not an overtly poetic poet. His tone is conversational, his language plain. But his high-beam insights are provoking, and his humor irreverent. It's exciting to read Alexie in this more concentrated form, liberated from the demands of his spiky fiction, including the shape-shifting tale Flight (2007) and his National Book Award-winning young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007). But his storytelling impulse is irrepressible. His poems have a narrative drive; he slips into prose and fringes his poetry with bemusing footnotes. Ironic and audacious, Alexie makes fun of himself, expresses love for his wife, remembers his father, and marvels over his sons. He writes of blood, mirth, anger, patriotism, pretension, sex, the fruitful collision of cultures, and calcified ideas about what it means to be a Native American, a writer, a man, a human being. Skirmishes with insects and animals illuminate our conflicts over nature, and musings about the toll of creativity inspire poems about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Richard Pryor. A bountiful, keen, and inspiriting collection.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist
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Brash, confrontational verse and prose have made Alexie the most famous, and the most controversial, Native American writer of his generation. Alexie (First Indian on the Moon), in this first book of poems since 2000, sometimes works in sonnets, rhymed couplets, short quatrains, even villanelles. The results are mixed and occasionally naOve ("When I tell my wife about my adolescent rage/ She shrugs, rolls her eyes, and turns the page"). More successful are his many experiments with footnotes and interpolated blocks of prose within poems, devices that let Alexie explore his self-consciousness, as he looks back on his childhood on "the rez" in Washington State, inward to his sex life and his happy marriage, and outward to public events, from the Clinton impeachment to Gonzaga University basketball. Alexie's self-interruptions also permit flights of comedy, with homages to Richard Pryor and to the porn star Ron Jeremy. The humor, in turn, lets Alexie brace himself for his most serious subjects: his love for his son, the history of his people and the last illness and death of his father, a flawed but durable example of the manliness for which Alexie so often strives. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Poet, novelist, and National Book Award-winning YA author Alexie writes "with a ragged and rugged formalism," he says, and has mastered both the metrical dance and fixed forms. A sequence of sonnets finds the Seven Deadly Sins in marriage, for instance; a villanelle begins with Mount Rushmore but eases into a consideration of America's Presidents, complemented by wry and smart footnotes. One series of rhymed tercets in tetrameter is supplemented with footnotes in the same formal pattern, footnotes that have footnotes, by the way. Top that! Well, a sonnet (about comedy) has footnotes presented in seven couplets, then notes on those notes in three quatrains and a final couplet-in essence, a sonnet hat trick. Alexie is keen-witted and sharp-tongued, even occasionally raw, but all in the service of truth: "But don't these fools realize/ That I am always surprised// By the beauty of this life?/ Don't they ever laugh and cry// at the gorgeous absurdities of sex?" Alexie is not always about laughs, not always about sex; there are a lot of serious undercurrents in his poetry, and they are always a pleasure to find. Highly recommended.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.