The first story in Sherman Alexie’s latest anthology, ‘Cry Cry Cry’, follows a man who recalls his cousin’s downward spiral. The cousin turns to an alternative lifestyle and goes to prison, where a gang takes possession of him and, later, murders his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. The narrator helps his cousin dispose of the body, then alerts police to the incident; yet rather than going back to prison, the cousin kills himself.
The Native American author’s fiction often places his characters in this type of dilemma. Whether they’re dealing with angry fathers or decorated ancestors, Alexie’s characters must both honour and atone for those who have come before them. In ‘Scars’, a man describes his past injuries and explains that anyone fit to lead a nation must be ‘somebody who is equal parts love and blood’.
In ‘Green World’, a Cervantes-inspired Native American shoots at a windmill that he had a hand in building.
Many of the stories are like campfire tales, but instead of inciting fear with ghouls, they haunt the reader with men whose choices lead to misfortune. Manoli Kouremetis