“my heroes have never been cowboys” and “when my brother was an aztec” | English | City University of New York Borough of Manhattan Community College

Sherman Alexie’s title “My Heroes Have Never Been Cowboys” reverses and subverts Willie Nelson’s song title “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” in order to de-bunk some of the macho frontier myths about America as an invaded nation. Why might this Native American break his story into 50 numbered sections? In what ways does he use dark humor to convey his political/racial protest?

In Natalie Diaz’s “When My Brother Was an Aztec,” is there potentially something culturally insensitive about comparing a methamphetamine-addicted brother to an “Aztec,” even though the story is written by a native Mexican author? Is drug use on some level a journey back in time to reconnect with more primal animal sensitivities and tribal connections, even though “speed” is usually associated with forward motion?

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