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Sample Autograph Signature: Sherman Alexie

Native American novelist, poet, short stories and film writer, and occasional comedian. Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr., a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, was born in 1966 on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. His father was a truck driver in the logging industry and his mother was a social worker. He survived being born hydrocephalic due to brain surgery, but was expected to be severely mentally retarded. While he did have further childhood medical problems, he learned to read by age three and was reading adult novels by age five. Confronted with ostracism and teasing about his precocity from his peers at the reservation's school, combined with discovering a textbook assigned to him bore his mother's name, he decided his educational ambitions would be better served by attending the nearby Reardan High School where he was the only Indian. He graduated from high school in 1985 with honors, and then attended Gonzaga University in Spokane on a scholarship for two years before transferring to Washington State University where enrolled in their pre-medicine program. After repeatedly fainting in human anatomy class, he realized he needed to change his career path. He found his new path at the university through a poetry workshop. Alexie graduated with a B.A. in American Studies in 1990, and then received the Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship in 1991 and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1992. He struggled with alcoholism soon after he started college at Gonzaga, but went sober after learning that his first collection of poetry, The Business of Fancy Dancing (1991), would be published. By the time Alexie published his first short story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993), he had published over 300 poems, stories, essays and reviews in magazines and anthologies, and a second book of poetry, I Would Steal Horses (1992). The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven received a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction, and also a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. Reservation Blues, his first novel, followed in 1995 to much acclaim an several awards, as was his second, Indian Killer, published in 1996. To date, Alexie has written 11 volumes of poetry, 2 novels, and 3 collections of short stories. His first success as a screenwriter was the multi-award winning Smoke Signals released at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1998 and distributed nationwide that July. He also wrote and directed the film adoption of the 2002 The Business of Fancy Dancing, and wrote the screenplay for 49? (2003). He made his debut as a successful stand-up comedian in 1999, and has made TV appearances on PBS' Lehrer News Hour, Politically Incorrect, 60 Minutes II, NOW with Bill Moyers, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Alexei has received numerous awards and honors including two honorary doctorates.

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