Library Journal Review
Alexie follows up his story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (LJ 9/1/93), with a first novel about an all-Indian Catholic rock band called Coyote Springs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
The characters of Alexie's acclaimed short fiction (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven)-Thomas Builds-the-Fire, Victor, Junior, the habitu├ęs of the Spokane Indian reservation-return in this superb first novel, a lyric comic tale with magical realist overtones. A stranger arrives on the reservation carrying a magic guitar, which he's been given as part of his bargain with ``the Gentleman'' for blues immortality. Now he's trying to lose guitar, devil and deal. Taking the instrument off his hands, Thomas soon forms an all-Indian R&B band with Victor and Junior. The group, Coyote Springs, plays small clubs and bars and eventually goes on tour. They even attract their own groupies-white women Betty and Veronica and Indian sisters Chess and Checkers Warm Water. Will they succeed and, if they do, will they lose their souls? Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur D'Alene Indian, excels at creating colorful characters, and he fills his narrative with subtle and affectionate homages to other contemporary Native American writers (Jim Northrup, Thomas King et al.). Hilarious but poignant, filled with enchantments yet dead-on accurate with regard to modern Indian life, this tour de force will leave readers wondering if Alexie himself hasn't made a deal with the Gentleman in order to do everything so well. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Booklist Review
" Coyote Springs counted one, two, three, then fell into their first paid chord together, off rhythm. They stopped, counted again, rose into that first chord again, then the second, third, and in a move that stunned the crowd and instantly propelled them past nearly every rock band in history, played a fourth chord and nearly a fifth." Coyote Springs is an all-Indian Catholic rock band from the Spokane Reservation in eastern Washington, and if their career eventually crashes and burns, the novel they inhabit soars like that elusive fifth chord. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian and the author of the critically acclaimed The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993), Alexie mixes biting black humor, a healthy dose of magic, and sparkling lyricism to produce a remarkably powerful story with roots not only in Native American mythology, but also in the equally potent history of rock 'n' roll. Alexie's characters, including lead singer Thomas Builds-the-Fire, lead guitarist Victor Joseph, and backup vocalists Chess and Checkers Warm Water, are reservation Indians, but they are also kids with guitars committed to putting on their own show. Like Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich, Alexie writes about Indians who are individuals first and members of an ethnic group second. The stuff of their lives, the pain, the poverty, the humor, the resilience, grows out of their experience on the reservation, to be sure, but it also fuels their need to be heard in their own voices: "Thomas Builds-the-Fire wanted his tears to be individual, not tribal." You can hear Thomas' need in every note of these unforgettable reservation blues. --Bill Ott