The game of basketball serves as a fitting metaphor for the conflicts and tensions of life. It involves both cooperation and competition, selflessness and ego. In the hands of a gifted writer like Sherman Alexie, those paradoxes become even deeper and more revealing. In his short story collections, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Toughest Indian in the World, his debut novel, Reservation Blues, and his recent young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie uses basketball to explore the ironies of American Indian reservation life and the tensions between traditional lifeways and contemporary social realities. So central is basketball to the Lone Ranger and Tonto short story collection, in fact, that the paperback edition's cover depicts a salmon - the Coeur d'Alene Indians are fishermen - flying over a basketball hoop.

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