Sherman Alexie, author of the recent memoir You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, is cancelling the rest of his book tour. The author posted an open letter on his Facebook page last Thursday (13 July).
In the letter, Alexie expounds on his relationship with his mother, Lillian. He says how he is his "mother's son" and has "inherited many of my mother's best qualities" and "inherited many of her worst."
He describes his mother as "brilliant, funny, beautiful, generous, vindictive, deceitful, tender, manipulative, abusive, loving, and intimidating." That's a lot of adjectives to describe someone, but each one comes from his heart.
He goes on to describe a private academic event, wherein he is detailing his memoir and his mother to someone. Almost at once, the entire room falls silent.
"Sherman," the man from another country said to me. "In my culture, when those kind of silences happen, we say that God just passed by."
"That's beautiful," I said.
The man talked about his tribe. Then he asked me more about my tribe,
"Sherman," he said. "Your tribe's name, Spokane, what does it mean?"
I said, "It means 'Children of the Sun.'"
Further into the letter, Alexie describes a dream he had while on tour. In the dream, he was inside of the movie Smoke Signals. Instead of Victor Joseph readhing for a construction worker, Alexie is reaching toward his mother. But at the same time, she is a highway construction worker holding a STOP sign. Alexie interpreted this as a sign to stop pushing himself. Fresh over a head cold, Alexie still didn't feel like his best self, and after feeling the ghost of his mother at some previous events, he didn't know if he was up to continuing the tour.
His wife agreed: "Maybe it's your mother taking care of you from Heaven."
Perhaps so. After all, everyone needs a push in the right direction sometimes. Perhaps this was Lillian's way of reaching out to her son.
Alexie is sorry he cannot continue the tour.
"But for now, I can only apologize again for my unexpected retreat. And I thank you, over and over again, for your time, energy, and understanding."
From all of us here at PopWrapped: We wish you the best, Mr. Alexie.