Talking to Sherman Alexie

By DEBRA CASH  |  October 9, 2012


The people who made Spokane Indian writer Sherman Alexie's semi-autobiographical The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian the second-most censored book of 2010 didn't realize they were doing him a favor, he told us.

Your new book, Blasphemy, is a collection of "new and selected" stories. What was it like for you to review your old stories and put them next to the 15 new ones? The first five or six or seven were easy to pick. After that, my self-loathing kicked in, like "I don't know how I ever published this crap." The stories that other people love felt like being set up for a date. You meet the stranger and you're thinking, "That's what my friend thinks of me?"

You have a great career as a regularly censored author. Oh please, censor me! I want someone to lead a nationwide effort to ban me, I will outsell John Grisham! All that does is make the books sacred in their communities. Kids will read it like crazy. True Diary is very tame!

It's got a little masturbation in it. . . . It just talks about it, it doesn't even do it! There are communities where talking about masturbation gets you banned, so it really points out the difference between 97 percent of the country and that 3 percent who are still trapped somewhere in 1955.

Does it make more sense when a story about finding your tribe and finding your identity is a young person's story? It's the time when you have the most questions, where you're unsure about everything, but adults read it because we still feel that way. That's certainly one of the ideas I try to talk to kids about. All the adults in your life? They're also clueless.

Are they relieved by that, or are they scared? They knew it all along! When I say it, it just confirms their own observations about the world.

SHERMAN ALEXIE :: Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St, Brookline :: October 16 :: 6 pm :: SOLD OUT :: 

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