Office of Public Affairs
Nov. 19, 2003
SNAPSHOTS OF RESERVATION LIFE DEVELOP INTO NEXT ORI SELECTION
OSWEGO -- "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in
Heaven," a collection of short stories by Sherman Alexie, defeated all
challengers in the choice for the book to be read next summer by the
campus community under the Oswego Reading Initiative.
Associate Provost Rhonda Mandel said the book was a
clear consensus pick for the ORI committee. "They liked the quality of
the writing," she said. "They thought that students would read it and
enjoy it. Students who had read it really liked it."
Voting on the ORI Web site, one of the factors the
committee considered, tipped overwhelmingly toward Alexie's book. Votes
in favor of "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" ran at
about a 20-to-1 ratio to the next runner-up of six choices in the
largest electronic voting turnout for the program to date, Mandel said.
The New York Times Book Review noted that the book's
"spare, disturbing stories trace with stark, lyric power the experience
of American Indians in the modern world." A Library Journal review
found that "the text brims with humor and passion as it juxtaposes
ancient customs with such contemporary artifacts as electric guitars
and diet Pepsi."
The book served as the foundation for the critically
acclaimed movie "Smoke Signals," which earned two Sundance Film
Festival awards and a deal with Miramax Films.
The first piece of fiction to be selected an ORI
book, Alexie's collection "reads like a novel because you have the same
characters from story to story," Mandel said.
Through Alexie's characters struggling on a modern
Spokane Indian reservation, readers learn more about the plight of
Native Americans, but the book's compelling nature offers wide appeal,
Mandel said. "It speaks to universal experiences even as it addresses a
specific culture," she noted.
Since previous ORI selections also featured
programming tie-ins to class syllabi, speakers, a film series and an
art exhibition, the committee was impressed with the possibilities
Alexie's book offered. A programming subcommittee will look at
possibilities for projects to supplement the reading, Mandel said.
Previous ORI selections include "Haven: The Dramatic
Story of 1000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America" by
Ruth Gruber and this year's pick, Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation:
The Dark Side of the All-American Meal."
For more information on the book or the annual
reading project, visit the ORI Web site at www.oswego.edu/ori.
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