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Sherman Alexie archive

Alexie cancels Aug. 5 Bing appearance

It's now official: Sherman Alexie has cancelled his Aug. 5 reading at The Bing.

Alexie has been on a nationwide tour promoting his new book, a memoir titled "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (464 pages, Little, Brown & Co.). But, as he wrote on his website, the tour has introduced him to a number of "ghosts."

"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time," he wrote on his website. He's seen them in various forms — in handmade quilts, in sudden rays of sunlight and, in one instance, in the card being held at an airport that carried the name of his late mother, Lillian.

The result? Moments of grief so hard that they left him sobbing, both alone in hotel rooms and, on occasion, even onstage.

"I don't believe in the afterlife as a reality," he wrote, "but I believe in the afterlife as metaphor. And my mother, from the afterlife, is metaphorically kicking my ass."

So he has decided to cancel all his August tour dates, including the Aug. 5 event that was being sponsored by Auntie's Bookstore, and "many, but not all, of my events for the rest of the year."

No word yet on when, or if, Alexie will reschedule. But in the meantime, buy a copy of his book. It'll give you some idea of what he's been going through.

Alexie Aug. 5 reading now in question

Note: Soon after I posted the news below, Alexie announced on his website that he was canceling all his August readings. Nothing has changed on the Auntie's Bookstore site, but I'll update when official word does become available. Meanwhile, read his letter of explanation. It's powerful.

Some of us remember Sherman Alexie before he became the celebrity author Sherman Alexie.

We remember the days when he would show up for poetry readings at the previous Auntie's Bookstore location, the one that bridged its genesis in the Flour Mill and its current site in the Liberty Building, in character as Thomas Builds-the-Fire.

These days, Alexie — the kid from Wellpinit, who transferred to Reardan High School — is a nationally known author. He won a National Book Award in 2007 for his novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."

And befitting his growing role as a literary elder, he no longer — in fact, hasn't in quite some time — makes public appearances in small venues. At least not in Spokane.

Which is why Alexie's Auntie's Bookstore-sponsored appearance on Aug. 5, scheduled for 7 p.m., will NOT be at the store but at the Bing Crosby Theater. Alexie will be appearing in support of his new memoir, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me."

Even if you don't need prodding, let me offer the following critical comments regarding Alexie's new book:

Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune: " 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' is a marvel of emotional transparency, a story told with the fewest possible filters by a writer grieving the loss of a complicated mother."

Laura Miller, Slate.com: "For Alexie’s fans, the essence of his appeal is his scouring honesty. He’s not merely willing to tell people what they don’t want to hear; he leaps at the chance. Piety in every guise draws his fire."

Publishers Weekly: "Alexie treats this sometimes bleak material with a graceful touch, never shying away from deep emotions but also sharing wry humor and a warm regard for Native culture and spirituality."

If you buy a copy of the book at Auntie's, you can get into Auntie's Alexie event free. If you don't, admissions is $5 (all ages).

Either way, tell them Thomas Builds-the-Fire sent you.