Dear Sherman Alexie,
I did not read the last chapter or two of your memoir "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" not because I am lazy or uncommitted to this book but, because in the chant-like way in which the essays and poems that make up this book reverberate and deliver the story of your mother, and you, I was really rather overtaken by the time, near the end of this book, that you forgave your mother, or, at least, forgave yourself for, rightfully, having to walk away from the reservation and her.
I really would hate to ruin this memoir for anyone who has yet to read it, because there is a "secret" told here. Actually, there are two. One involves your mother. The other, your oldest sister. I guess that is what strikes me the most, and made it OK to walk away before fully ingesting the final chapter or two, which I did skim and which you -- by obligation -- try and wrap this thing up. I think you had already done that, and done so in such an aching and heartbreaking and adoring fashion that you should be commended.
I know that since the book has come out, you have now stopped touring to promote it. I think it's a good call. You were suffering from the travel and having to visit with the ghost of your vexing mother. That''s what you cited as the need to halt the book tour. In reality though, there is no need to promote this book, or to bleed for it, or to enter into public space and make chitchat and take photos or listen to your adoring audience. Not that you don't deserve that adoration. You do.. You are a gift.
But the book, as you have delivered it, has been a difficult birth. Yet it breathes and cries and would stand for nothing except full care and attention. As I said, I won't spoil what it is you give to the world in this book. You gave yourself. You gave your mother. And you gave your oldest sister. You have an uncanny gift in this book as you have in all your others to know exactly how to use words in a way to create the compression of time and thought and memory and feeling.
Maybe your friend is right. You have Salish hiding behind your gifted English. I certainly can't fathom this gift. All I know is that you already did your part here. The book stands. Let it be. You did all the hard work in such a way that, reading it, I have no doubt. You did absolutely what you had to do. You are freer for it. And so are they.
I used to write politics, news and sports for newspapers in cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. Now I take a lot of Instagram photos, check Facebook, swim, read about T$$$p and cook dinner for people I really like. New York native, living in Port Washington and Greenfield Center (that's near Saratoga Springs FYI).