Monday, October 26, 2009

Re-establishing His Eccentric Self

Great article on Sherman Alexie in The New York Times.

Alexie was adored after the publication of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. It was very successful, and he was embraced by the YA world. He could have followed up Part-time Indian with another YA book and got himself some more lovin', at least from YA people.

But he didn't. Instead, he published War Dances, a volume of short stories and poetry. In the Times article, In His Own Literary World, a Native Son Without Borders, Alexie says, "I think the new book was an attempt to re-establish my eccentric self: ‘I’m not supposed to sell as many copies as I just did, so let me write something that won’t.’"

Yes, short stories and poetry should do the trick.

I also liked Alexie's description of how he works: "I’ll write whatever’s going well for a few months at a time and move around." He might write 150 pages and jettison it or turn it into a small part of a poem.

And what was really terrific was that he didn't just write Part-time Indian and go, "Well, would you look at that--I wrote a YA book," or have an agent or editor point that fact out to him, the way many writers of adult fiction write their first YA books. He was aware of his audience and studied YA novels while "figuring mine out."

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