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Flight by Sherman Alexie

I just finished reading Sherman Alexie's Flight, which, by the way, I don't think can be classified as magical realism. Flight's language is simple and the story is compelling. It addresses some of my favorite themes: identity, shame, betrayal, justice, revenge and redemption. This book would be an excellent read for high schoolers and I hope teachers will begin using it, SOON! (Although I'm sure the occasional f-bomb will cause a stink among the narrow minded set).


Part of me wants to say that Flight isn't Alexie's best work in a literary sense. His 1993 book, Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, remains in my mind, better. But Flight was useful and freeing for me in a couple of different ways that Alexie's other works have not been---

1. Flight made me realize that writing doesn't have to be so fucking complex in order to be good.

2. As a person who loves to cart around a boat-load of white, middle-class, American guilt, this novel was liberating.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
magical realism
A chiefly literary style or genre originating in Latin America that combines fantastic or dreamlike elements with realism.

I Got that definition from an on-line source. With the character, Zits, doing astral projection through out the book I would put it rather close (akin)to "magical realism" although it did not originate in So. America. This was the first book that I have read if Sherman's, (I know him through films) I look forward to Lone Ranger and Tonto...
Jul. 7th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
You also read Alexie's Ten Little Indians a few years back. I remember you raving about over the phone.

I still don't think Flight qualifies as magical realism. I don't think time traveling/astral projection is fantastical enough, because outside of this nothing supernatural happens. A child carrying around a bag filled with her dead parents' bones which shake and rattle on their own is fantastical (as in Marquez's 100 Years.

I like this definition by Lindsey Moore: "Magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives, one based on a rational view of reality and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as prosaic reality."

I think the key word in this definition is "prosaic." The time traveling/astral projection of Alexie's character is NOT portrayed as prosaic by Alexie, or his main character, "Zits".

Here are some writers whose work she classifies as "magical realism":

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ben Okri
Isabel Allende
Syl Cheney-Coker
Kojo Laing
Allejo Carpentier
Toni Morrison
Kwsme Anthony Appiah
Mario Vargas Llosa

To that list I'd have to added David Schickler's "Wes Amerigo's Giant Fear" which you can read (in large text even if you'd like) here: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/03/17/030317fi_fiction?currentPage=1
Jul. 7th, 2007 10:36 am (UTC)
OK you win this one. So I read "Ten Little..." and raved about it. OK so in a few years you can send me to a home all I'll need is one book to read over and over and over. "So it goes"
Jul. 6th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
sounds awesome
Aug. 4th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
I've read several of Alexie's short story collections. I've been hesitant to try his novels, wondering if he can sustain the same level of storytelling ability that works so well in his shorter pieces.
Aug. 4th, 2007 10:36 pm (UTC)
A valid concern. For this reason you may be disappointed in Flight. But damn, Alexie is so good, even his "not as good stuff" is still good.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )