Sherman Alexie, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
Wild salmon provided physical and spiritual sustenance for the Interior Salish – Alexie’s Native American people – for thousands of years. In 1938, five years after the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state, they were gone. Alexie’s Spokane mother and Coeur d’Alene father, fluent Salish speakers, were the first generation to live entirely without wild salmon. “Salmon-grief” echoes throughout the pages of his sardonic, raw and moving memoir. “Poverty was our spirit animal,” he writes of growing up on the Spokane reservation. His father was “a shy and gentle man even when drunk.” His mother was gifted and difficult (bipolar like he is, haunted by ghosts). He shapes his powerful memoir around her final days and his mourning, stitching together his memories with poems.