Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr. (born October 7, 1966) is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman's best known works include The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Smoke Signals, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Alexie was born in Spokane, Washington and is of Spokane and Coeur d'Alene heritage. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, about 50 miles northwest of the city of Spokane.
He was born hydrocephalic ("with water on the brain"), and, at six months of age, underwent brain surgeries to correct the condition. His initial prognosis was grim; even after he survived in operations, doctors predicted that he would suffer mental retardation. However, in spite of suffering from seizures, Alexie proved to be an extremely intelligent child, who says he learned to read at the age of three and by the age of five read adult novels such as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.
Alexie's intelligence caused problems with his peers at the reservation school, who saw him as an outcast and frequently bullied him. He opted instead to attend a nearby public high school in Reardan, Washington, about 20 miles south of Wellpinit. There he excelled in academics and athletics, becoming a star basketball player and popular student.
Alexie graduated from high school in 1985 and entered Gonzaga University in Spokane on a scholarship. After two years at Gonzaga, he transferred to Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman. He initially planned to be a doctor but after fainting several times in his human anatomy class, he decided to choose a different career. He graduated with a B.A. in American studies, becoming one of the first members of his tribe to earn a university degree. His completion of his degree was a bit unorthodox. He left WSU in 1990 believing he had not met the requirements for the degree, and spent the next few years explaining that he could never finish his United States History survey because when Indians disappeared a few weeks in, so did he. In 1994, the director of the American Studies Program, Susan Armitage, examined his academic records and found that he had completed the requirements, but missed a minor administrative procedure. The degree was thus awarded that spring in a special ceremony , while he was on campus for a reading.
Since 1991 Alexie has published 17 books, and has found success as a writer of novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays. Alexie's writing is marked by harsh depictions of reservation life, autobiographical elements, colorful use of humor, political outspokenness, seamless invocation of history and popular culture, and social commentary. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy and music. In college, Alexie was encouraged to write by his poetry professor, Alexander Kuo. His rise in the world of writing was rapid: he earned a Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship in 1991 and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1992.
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Posted By: WAKEUP |
9/17/13 2:41 PM
Proof that any kid that is in a safe learning environment will flourish. Enough bullying!