I finished this book the week before Sherman Alexie was in the news, and in my Facebook feed (we share some colleagues), for having sexually harassed many female writers. I am glad I read it Before. Now, he joins the category of other Fallen male culture producers whose accomplishments smell faintly of fridge-with-moldy-food. [But note: there are other categories in the spectrum of Fallen male culture producers whose accomplishments now smell much worse.]
"Seriously, I know my mother and father had their dreams when they were kids. They dreamed about being something other than poor, but they never got the chance to be anything because nobody paid attention to their dreams.
Given the chance, my mother would have gone to college.
She still reads books like crazy. She buys them by the pound. And she remembers everything she reads. She can recite whole pages by memory. She's a human tape recorder. Really, my mom can read the newspaper in fifteen minutes and tell me baseball scores, the location of every war, the latest guy to win the Lottery, and the high temperature in Des Moines, Iowa.
Given the chance, my father would have been a musician.
When he gets drunk, he sings old country songs. And blues, too. And he sounds good. Like a pro. Like he should be on the radio. He plays the guitar and the piano a little bit. And he has this old saxophone from high school that he keeps all clean and shiny, like he's going to join a band at any moment.
But we reservation Indians don't get to realize our dreams. We don't get those chances. Or choices. We're just poor. That's all we are.
It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it.
Poverty doesn't give you strength or teach you lessons about about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor."
- Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, 2007