Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Greasy Bookshelf: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Occasionally at The Greasy Skillet, I share books that I’ve been reading in a feature I call The Greasy Bookshelf (I know it’s not a very original title). I do try to put an original spin on this feature by sharing excerpts that have a connection with food.

In my research on fry bread, a Smithsonian article mentioned Sherman Alexie, one of my favorite writers. Last year he released a young adult novel titled The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Since I haven’t read any fiction this summer, I decided to give this novel a shot.

The story is about a boy named Arnold Spirit who decides he doesn’t want to be tethered to the hopelessness of the Spokane Indian Reservation, so he chooses to attend a nearby high school that is off the reservation and predominantly white. I can’t begin to convey my love for this book, but I’ll try.

The most endearing quality of book is its narrator, Arnold Spirit. He tells his heart-wrenching story, but injects it with his witty humor and indomitable spirit. Long after reading the last word on the last page, I find myself thinking about Arnold Spirit and what became of him.

Even in the midst of extreme adversity, I believe it's possible to control one’s attitude. However, it requires tremendous effort, spirit, and faith to always maintain control of attitude. I’m not always good at this. When life deals me a poor hand, I often stray into pessimism and negativity. Hell, even something like a car trouble sends me spiraling into malaise. Arnold's story taught me much about how to live life.

There are incidents in the book that broke my heart, but ultimately the book is very uplifting. The book is also filled with humorous illustrations that capture the spirit of the story.

Arnold often shares heart-wrenching details of his life while placing a humorous spin on his reality. The following passage illustrates this:

Do you know the worst thing about being poor? Oh, maybe you've done the math in your head and you figure:

Poverty=empty refrigerator + empty stomach

And sure, sometimes, my family misses a meal, and sleep is the only thing we have for dinner, but I know that, sooner or later, my parents will come bursting through the door with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Original Recipe.

And hey, in a weird way, being hungry makes food taste better. There is nothing better than a chicken leg when you haven't eat for (approximately) eighteen-and-a-half hours. And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.

The story that follows this excerpt is even more heartbreaking. I encourage you to read this book. It's a quick, short read, and I guarantee that you won't be disappointed. Take care and keep on the sunny side, muddywaters


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I love The Absolutely True Story of Part-Time Indian, too. My book, Courage in Patience, has been compared to this one-- and I cannot think of a higher compliment. I like your site!

Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Chapter 1 is online!

Steve O said...

Speaking of Indian, how about some Tandoori Chicken and curried veggie rice salad?