Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Ramblings on Sherman Alexie and a tease for World Book Night.

Sherman Alexie Lecture

Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2009, SCBWI
used under a cc license from
This is NOT the event I was at, I was way
too far away to get pictures, but I can tell
what story he is telling and it was hysterical! 
Last night I went to an event hosted by our local library system. The Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series brings in about 6 authors a year to speak to the public, good authors, but usually not up my alley. Except this one. When they announced the speakers last year I zeroed right in on Sherman Alexie's name. He has long been one of my favorite authors. From his poetry to The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven. From the movie Smoke Signals to my all time favorite book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, his books and writing have been a part of my life. In fact way back when this blog first started in September of 2009, Diary was the first book I rambled on about. 313 posts later it's still my favorite book.    So to get the chance to see him speak was a chance of a lifetime. It. Was. Awesome. I won't lie, I was slightly fan-girly about the whole thing, and I was way up in the nosebleeds. I can't imagine what I would have been like if I was up close!

I had never been to a Lecture Series event before, so I wasn't entirely sure the format or what to expect. What I got was essentially a hour long stand up routine that mixed social commentary and politics with heartfelt stories and gutter level humor. I literally laughed so hard that I was tearing up. All of Alexie's books and poems are part of who he is and tell personal stories, but his presentation most closely aligned with Diary. That brand of honest humor and self-deprecation was front and center. He managed to crack jokes about everyone in the room, himself included (and his dead father) while still getting a larger message across. I'd love to share some of the jokes, but I can remember an entire one that wouldn't put my blog on the restricted list. As a fan of gutter humor, this was right up my alley. It was never offensive, just funny. 

For me, as a school librarian, the message was this. You have to give kids a chance to make their own way, to follow their dreams and to succeed even amid struggles and failures. That's essentially the story of his life. A series of hurdles to leap over, of hardships to overcome. He definitely had some setbacks, but this lecture focused mostly on how and why he was able to succeed. He did it with determination, a positive outlook and a lot of humor. It's a pretty great story and I'm really glad I got the chance to see him speak live. I'd go again in a heartbeat. 


In related news I'm participating in World Book Night this year. If you haven't heard of this event it goes down like this. Book lovers everywhere sign up to receive 20 books and pledge to give them away to someone or someplace deserving, who might not have access otherwise. World Book Night provides a list of available choices, you choose the one you want to feature and at the end of April you pick them up and start handing them out. The list had some great choices on it including some of my favorites like Peace Like a River, Because of Winn Dixie and The Hunger Games. It also had The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I give this book to everyone on holidays, I love it that much, so there was never really a doubt which one I would pick. I was stoked when I got my acceptance letter and the confirmation that in a few short weeks a pile of my favorite book would be ready for me to pick up and hand out. I've got a list of places I'm going to drop them, The Little Free Library and a few after school/community programs. It should be a lot of fun! 

1 comment:

  1. Thats awesome you were able to see Sherman Alexie speak. He came to my hometown while I was in high school. At the time, we were reading The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. I remember hating the book because I didn't care for the writing style or the content. However, when I heard about Part Time Indian,I couldn't wait to get my hands on it!