For the last few weeks, the London weather has drawn me to books about the area – damp, quiet books that I’ve loved, but which say nothing to me off home. Alexie’s words, though, always bring me back to the open skied West. I leave tomorrow for Spain, and then DC, and in less than two weeks, I’ll be home again. As I stand on the brink of this trip, it makes me desperate for the hot, dry climate I’ve come to love, and rereading this story – one I’ve had occasion to go back to many times since I first saw the film Smoke Signals and learned of the author whose work inspired it – grounds me.
I love that I can find it regardless of where I am in the world too. So much of Alexie’s work is available for free online. He often posts flash fiction at The Stranger, but it all it really takes is a quick search and his poetry and stories come up in multiple locations. As much as I rely on the publishing industry to get paid myself and have great respect for the needs of other authors to sell their materials in order to make a living, there is something deliciously appealing about good writing available for free. Libraries, of course, are the best resource for that, but sometimes, when there’s no time to spare, finding a beloved story made freely and easily available can be the perfect cure for a difficult week.
And this has been a difficult week. I’ve already complained enough about the challenges of having a dead computer while traveling, and typing this all on a tiny phone screen only serves to reinforce my intense longing for my (formerly) good, old laptop. Every deadline has been a challenge, every bit of writing, a thumb-numbing slog. I’m ninety percent sure that typing with only two fingers is restricting the output of my brain – picture a brook, dammed by a fallen tree – the tiny trickle that manages to seep through is almost as useless as no water at all. As much as I enjoy reading on my phone is how much I detect typing on it, and my love for the kindle app knows no bounds.
So forgive me my brevity this week, and take the time you might have spent here to check out Alexie’s lovely little stories. It will, I hope, wrap you up in his particular American loneliness – a feeling that tiptoes down the line between sadness and strength.
For more Sherman Alexie, go here