7 – 9:00 pm Monday, September 23, 2019
“What You Pawn, I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie
I admit to having issues with literature that bleeds about the American underclass. I have issues with panhandlers. I have issues with people who don’t have enough self-control to avoid becoming druggies, alcoholics or zombies. But author Sherman Alexie is so disarming when he describes the foibles and rare triumphs of his American Indian compatriots that he forces me to reconsider my beliefs. Maybe we all need to wrestle with our beliefs more often. As Alexie has said, “In the middle of the night, when you’re ambiguously ethnic, like me, … you have to be careful of the cops and robbers because nobody’s quite sure what you are, but everybody has assumptions.”
Author Alexie grew up on a reservation near Spokane but “escaped” it. His childhood included more violence, criminality, abuse and emotional darkness than most people you know. His family and the few things he loved died too frequently, often meaninglessly. Alexie escaped this morass because one teacher saw the talent in him and forced him to work it. That background is revealed in Alexie’s widely-read young adult novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, which won a 2007 National Book Award. The book is a grizzled coming-of-age story… a 21st-century “Catcher in the Rye.”
Our September reading comes from Alexie’s 2004 story collection “Ten Little Indians”. All the action In “What You Pawn, I Will Redeem” occurs in a two day period. A homeless Indian man in Seattle, Jackson Jackson, stumbles across a mission for his shapeless life. His drive toward that goal — like his whole life — is erratic, bizarre and self-defeating. Still Jackson Squared shows undeniable humanity that is key to his survival. [Extra credit: why is this a valid “Jewish Story Club” reading?]
Discussion Leader: Alan Liebman
Host: This month’s meeting will be at the home of Sharon and Gary Jacobson in ArrowCreek [south suburban Reno].
RSVP Required: To reserve your seat(s), receive a PDF copy of this month’s stories and get travel directions, please e-mail your name(s) to RenoJewishStory@AmericanSuperior.ORG before sundown, Friday, September 20th. The Club can accommodate 25 attendees at this meeting. Please remember, your reservation isn’t a political tweet but a reliable sign that you’ll show up! Social time and refreshments after the discussion.
NEXT Club Meeting [mark your calendar!]: 7 – 9:00 pm Monday, October 28, 2019