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Sherman Alexie Publishes ‘Blasphemy’

His is a story familiar to us by now, one that’s been fictionalized (loosely) and retold in a National Book Award-winning best seller. A boy is born on an Indian reservation in Eastern Washington and not expected to live. He does, only to chafe at the constraints placed upon him by family and tribe. As a teen, he leaves the rez and goes to a white school, where he excels. In college, a creative writing class sparked a career that, 20 years later, has this sickly Indian boy seen as one of the most respected writers of his generation. Sherman Alexie has come a long way from his precarious start in Wellpinit, Wash., on the Spokane Indian Reservation. His words – in the form of poems, short stories, novels and screenplays – have found audiences around the world. And now, two decades after the publication of his first poetry collections, “I Would Steal Horses” and “The Business of Fancydancing,” he’s coming out with a book that gathers some of his previously published short stories with new works/Carolyn Lamberson, SR. More here.

Question: I've read at least 2 books by Alexie, including "Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," watched his "Smoke Signals" and listened to a book of his on tape. Can't remember which. How about you?

Sherman Alexie Book Faces Protest

A Helena woman says a book used in sophomore English classes at Helena Public Schools is obscene and vulgar, and she wants it removed. Michele Smith submitted a request for reconsideration of educational materials to the central office for “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. A public hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Front Street Learning Center. Smith read the book after her daughter expressed being uncomfortable reading it as an assigned book for her class at Helena High School. … The teacher helped the family opt out and selected a different book for the assignment, but Smith says that’s not enough/Alana Listoe, Helena Independent Record. More here.

Question: I can see a parent asking a teacher to opt his/her child out of a reading assignment involving a book that might be too ‘adult’ for the child. I did that when Junior was a freshman in high school. But I find it bothersome that the parent wants to impose a blanket ban. How about you?

Alexie Book Wins Censorship Fight

Sherman Alexie’s award-winning book is once again the subject of a school censorship fight. This time, the book won. Alexie, a native of the Spokane Indian Reservation and world-renowned author, won the National Book Award for “The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” a semi-autobiographical story about a 14-year-old American Indian who leaves the reservation to attend an all-white high school. Parents at a Chicago suburban high school protested the book’s sexual content when it was included in a summer reading list for incoming freshmen, reports the Chicago Tribune. But after reading the book, the school superintendent and two school board members decided to keep it on the list and offer alternative reading to those who disagreed/Monica Guzman, The Big Blog. More here.

Question: Do you consider any book off limits for a high school freshman?