"I used to think the world was broken down by tribes," I said. "By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not."— Sherman Alexie
The most strong Sherman Alexie quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening
Everybody likes to have a place to think, to meditate, to eat a burrito.
Last September 16th, I was walking in downtown Seattle when this pick-up truck pulls up in front of me. Guy leans out the window and yells, "Go back to your own country," and I was laughing so hard because it wasn't so much a hate crime as a crime of irony.
Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.
All I try to do is portray Indians as we are, in creative ways.
With imagination and poetry. I think a lot of Native American literature is stuck in one idea: sort of spiritual, environmentalist Indians. And I want to portray everyday lives. I think by doing that, by portraying the ordinary lives of Indians, perhaps people learn something new.
What kind of life can you have in a house without books?
If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance.
Or better, one's chances of survival increase with each book one reads.
I grabbed my book and opened it up. I wanted to smell it. Heck, I wanted to kiss it. Yes, kiss it. That's right, I am a book kisser. Maybe that's kind of perverted or maybe it's just romantic and highly intelligent.
When anybody, no matter how old they are, loses a parent, I think it hurts the same as if you were only five years old, you know? I think all of us are always five years old in the presence and absence of our parents.
Well, I think the worst part about tribalism is its tendency to fundamentalize, and if I can fight fundamentalism in any of its forms I'm happy.
If you're good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can't be wrong.
I don’t want long hair, I don’t want short hair, I don’t want hair at all, and I don’t want to be a girl or a boy. I want to be a yellow and orange leaf some little kid picks up and pastes in his scrapbook.
If you really want a woman to love you, then you have to dance.
And if you don’t want to dance, then you’re going to have to work extra hard to make a woman love you forever, and you will always run the risk that she will leave you at any second for a man who knows how to tango.
He made me realize that hard work--that the act of finishing, of completing, of accomplishing a task--is joyous
I thought I’d been condescended to as an Indian - that was nothing compared to the condescension for writing Y.A.
It's a weird thing. Reservations were meant to be prisons, you know? Indians were supposed to move onto reservations and die. We were supposed to disappear. But somehow or another, Indians have forgotten the reservations were meant to be death camps.
Nervous means you want to play. Scared means you don't want to play.
If I wasn't writing poems I'd be washing my hands all the time.
If one reads enough books, one has a fighting chance.
Every movie is a road movie. Every novel is a mystery. Every tortilla chip is sacred.
The percentage of Indian kids doing some sort of artistic work is much higher than in the general population - painting, drawing, dancing, singing. The creation of art is still an everyday part of Indian culture, unlike the dominant culture, where art is sort of peripheral.
[F]rank knew he was guilty of arrogance and misanthropy, but he compensated by being kind to strangers and tipping really well at restaurants.
Reardan is the rich white farm town that sits in the wheat fields exactly 22 miles away from the Rez. And it's a hick town I suppose filled with farmers and rednecks and racists cops who stop every Indian that drives through. During one week when I was little dad got stopped three times for DWI- Driving While Indian.
The problem is that too many adults think their kids' lives are simple, or they try to make their lives simple, when their emotional lives are just as complicated as ours. They might have a few less tools to deal with it because they're young, but the emotions are all the same, and the subject matter is all the same.
When you're depressed, you know, it's like the world has ended.
Even getting out of bed takes the most massive amount of effort. But when you're manic, oh, it's so addicting. You know, I have finished novels in two weeks in manic stages.
I was studying the sky like I was an astronomer, except it was daytime and I didn't have a telescope, so I was just an idiot.
It was so quiet, a reservation kind of quiet, where you can hear somebody drinking whiskey on the rocks three miles away.
A lot of native culture has been destroyed.
So you already feel lost inside your culture. And then you add up feeling lost and insignificant inside the larger culture. So you end up feeling lost squared. And to never be recognized, to never have any power, you know, other minority communities actually have a lot of economic, cultural power.
Nobody recognizes that a bookstore or library can also be a drowning polar bear.
And in this country [US], magazines, newspapers, and bookstores are drowning polar bears. And if people can't see that or don't want to talk about it, I don't understand them at all.
I end up feeling like a spy in the house of ethnicity, you know? Because people will talk around me as they would talk around the people in their cultural group. So I get to hear all the secrets and jokes and you know, I'm a part of every community because of the way I look.
If you care about something enough, it’s going to make you cry.
But you have to use it. Use your tears. Use your pain. Use your fear. Get mad. Arnold, get mad.
Yes, I am Irish and Indian, which would be the coolest blend in the world if my parents were around to teach me how to be Irish and Indian. But they're not here and haven't been for years, so I'm not really Irish or Indian. I am a blank sky, a human solar eclipse.
I'm a method writer. In order to write about the emotion, I have to experience it. I get physically tired and exhausted, devoting hours and hours and hours to it.
I got hundreds of emails insulting me, accusing me of being some caveman.
I am by no means a Luddite. I have two iPods. I have a cell phone. I have cable TV, HDTV!
...there are some children who aren't really children at all, they're just pillars of flame that burn everything they touch. And there are some children who are just pillars of ash, that fall apart when you touch them..." ~ Thomas Builds-the-Fire (played by Evan Adams) in Alexie's "Smoke Signals
All art is exploitation.
My wife was the first romantic partner who understood both American and native parts of me - not so much the positive stuff, but the damage.
Yep, my daddy was an undependable drunk.
But he'd never missed any of my organized games, concerts, plays, or picnics. He may not have loved me perfectly, but he loved me as well as he could. (189)
There are all kinds of addicts, I guess.
We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away. (107)
In a sense, you're always mythologizing your life;
it's always an effort to make yourself epic. At least in fiction you can lie and sort of justify your delusion about your "epicness." But when you're writing a memoir, you're trying to make your life epic and it's not - nobody's life is.
I've come to the point in my life where I encourage young Native Americans to become much more selfish about their personal needs and wants.
I know I'll keep writing poems. That's the constant. I don't know about novels. They're hard. It takes so much concentrated effort. When I'm writing a novel it's pretty much all I can do. I get bored. It takes months. Movies do the same thing. It's all-encompassing. It feels like I'm going to end up writing poems, short stories and screenplays.
White Americans have a short memory.
Environmentalism is a luxury. Just like being a vegetarian is a luxury. When you have to worry about eating - you're not going to be worried about where the food's coming from, or who made your shoes. Poverty, whether planned or not planned, is a way of making environmentalism moot.
I realized that I might be a lonely Indian boy, but I was not alone in the loneliness. There were millions of other Americans who had left their birthplaces in search of a dream. (217)
My father was always depressed. When he was home and sober, he was mostly in his room.
Most of my heroes are just decent people. Decency is rare and underrated.
They put me in a holding cell with a black kid and a white kid and a Chinese kid. We're the United Nations of juvenile delinquents.
That's the whole point of life, you know? To meet new people.
I guess a witness is all I am. I think as a writer, you're pretty removed. Writing is a very selfish, individualistic pursuit. So in that sense I'm a witness because I'm not participating.