What You Pawn I Will Redeem by Sherman Alexie, 2003
The magic trick:
Plotting out an excellent story
Many of Sherman Alexie’s stories function mainly as sketches. He often jumps back and forth between tenses. He often writes very short. He isn’t always interested in demonstrating a change as much as he is at capturing a state.
And that’s fine. That’s great. No complaints here.
But that style does serve to make “What You Pawn, I Will Redeem” stand out amidst his canon as especially plot-driven. The title alone indicates character growth and development. This is a traditional short story. We have a conflict, stakes, even a nice tidy denouement. And it works every step of the way. We get the author’s typical blend of humor, social commentary and sadness, but this time with a page-turner of a plot too. And that’s quite a trick on Alexie’s part.
Somebody kicked me in the ribs. I opened my eyes and looked up at a white cop.
“Jackson,” the cop said. “Is that you?”
“Officer Williams,” I said. He was a good cop with a sweet tooth. He’d given me hundreds of candy bars over the years. I wonder if he knew I was diabetic.