A Good Laugh

I joined a book club last summer at the invitation of my writer friend Jan. The first book I read with the group was Cutting for Stone. I had to devour 600-plus pages in a couple of weeks. My opinion? Loved the characters, but thought the author was a little self-indulgent.

Then it was Blood Meridian, which I couldn’t finish. We went on to  Leaving Cheyenne, The Land of Green Plums, and this month, Gilead. We go around the table sharing our thoughts. It’s a congenial group, mostly women. Only one time discussion got a little uncomfortable. That was over Blood Meridian. A few felt it was the best book written in the last century; others, including myself, strongly disagreed.

The group has already chosen the books we will read and discuss for the next several months: Wolf Hall, The Woman Warrior, Custom of the Country, and others. The serious trend continues. So, when I was asked what I’d like to share in June, I said something with humor. Please.

The first author that came to mind was Sherman Alexie. I follow him on Twitter. I own all his books because I enjoy the world he shows of Indians on and off the reservation, of course, colored with his delicious, dark sense of humor. I am further intrigued because Taos has its own sovereign nation, Taos Pueblo, one of our area’s three cultures: Hispano, Indian and gringo. (The named commonly used here for gringo is anglo by the way.)

His short story, The Toughest Indian in the World, begins “Being a Spokane Indian, I only pick up Indian hitchhikers.”

He started the short story, Because My Father Always Said He Was The Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play the Star-Spangled Banner At Woodstock, this way: “During the sixties, my father was the perfect hippie, since all all the hippies were trying to be Indians.”

Of course, I want to read the rest.

The others in the book club agreed humor would be a good thing. We had just finished discussing Gilead, a somber book with scant action. They liked the idea of reading Alexie. I suggested his YA book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which won the National Book Award. Someone mentioned his new short-story collection, Blasphemy. I said I’d buy it and get back to the group.

Some of the stories in Blasphemy were published in other volumes, like the two I mention above. Most of them have not. The book arrived yesterday, and I plan to dig in as soon as I can. I could use a good laugh.


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