Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
Publication Date: 1995-04-13
"In 1931, Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil, receiving legendary blues skills in return. He went on to record only twenty-nine songs before being murdered on August 16, 1938. In 1992, however, Johnson suddenly appears on the Spokane Indian Reservation and meets Thomas Builds-the-Fire, the misfit storyteller of the Spokane Tribe." "So begins Reservation Blues, the mythic and musical tale of Coyote Springs, an all-Indian Catholic rock-and-roll band. With Thomas Builds-the-Fire as lead singer, Victor Joseph and Junior Polatkin on lead guitar and drums, and Chess and Checkers Warm Water on vocals, Coyote Springs takes their "four-and-a-half-chord rock and blues" to reservation bars, small town taverns, and the urban landscapes of Seattle and Manhattan." "Sherman Alexie brilliantly mixes narrative, newspaper excerpts, songs, journal entries, visions, radio interviews, and dreams to explore the effects of Christianity on Native Americans in the late twentieth century. More important, he examines cultural assimilation's impact on the relationship between Indian women and Indian men. Reservation Blues is a painful, humorous, and ultimately redemptive symphony about God and indifference, faith and alcoholism, family and hunger, sex and death."