Mentor of the Month: Sherman Alexie: From Jenny’s Major Writer’s Class

Sherman Alexie. I’ve written about him before, briefly, when War Dances won the PEN/Faulkner Award. His book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian won the National Book Award. Plus, Ali named her dog, Sherman, after him (even though the dog is a girl).

All of these are wonderful compliments to a writer: awards, acclaim, and dog-name honorariums. But what I consider one of the highest forms of Compliment to a Writer is being taught in a college classroom.

This may sound a little high-brow academic, but I think that if a teacher is so moved by a writer’s words that they would choose to teach said writer, it means that they are willing to dedicate an awful lot of time and effort. After all, the teacher will be grading students writing about the writer’s writing, listening to presentations on the writer’s writing, reading the writer his/herself over again, taking notes on the writer’s writing, etc. That’s an insane amount of work to put into an author that you just feel lukewarm about.

Now I’m attending a class on the studying the major, contemporary Native American Writers. Alexie is head of the class in that department. I am relieved, as a student, that the class is focused on these works. Alexie is great because he’s a Stephen King fan, writes with language that is easily accessible yet still musical, and he has a sense of humor about himself. There’s also enough meat in the stories to justify hours of conversation about his characters and settings and ideas.

More on his writing itself a little later, but for now a question:
Would you like your work to be taught in a college classroom? Do you think that your work falls into that academic category at all? (While keeping in mind that Stephen King and JK Rowling are also taught in various classrooms across the country.)

Mentors Sherman Alexie

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. I would definitely need to have more books “complete” before that could happen.

    And I'm not sure I'd be the best one to make the determination if my stuff is worthy of a class. Although I'd really be chuffed if it happened.

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