Hotline Healers Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

“Almost Browne” is a play on words suggesting the crossbloodedness of the story’s protagonist. Almost received his name because he was born in the back of a car that was almost within Minnesota’s White Earth Indian Reservation. A crossblood, a term Vizenor invented, Almost is not quite Native American (brown), not quite white. He is the son of a native nun, Eternal Flame Browne, and a native priest, Father Mother Browne, whose trickster activities are motivated by the conviction that he is born to torment authority figures.

Like Vizenor, Almost is a trickster. Also like Vizenor, he teaches at the University of California at Berkeley as a member of the Transethic Situations Department. All goes well for him until the honor of delivering a commencement address befalls him. Almost, in full trickster form, gives a ribald speech that leaves students and faculty astounded.

Vizenor intersperses the novel with satirical chapters. In one such chapter, he has Almost establish a telephone call-in service that will connect troubled callers with Native American healers. This chapter is an obvious burlesque of the New Age and of the call-in psychic telephone services available at a price to troubled people.

In one of the novel’s few flashbacks, Almost has an offer from President Richard Nixon to become vice president provided that he will organize a Native American invasion that will free Cuba from communist rule and will bring down...

(The entire section is 495 words.)

Hotline Healers Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Blaeser, Kimberly M. Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.

Hochbruck, Wolfgang. “Breaking Away: The Novels of Gerald Vizenor.” World Literature Today 66 (Spring, 1992): 274-278.

Isernhagen, Hartwig. Momaday, Vizenor, Armstrong: Conversations on American-Indian Writing. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

Lee, A. Robert, ed. Loosening the Seams: Interpretations of Gerald Vizenor. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Press, 2000.

Owens, Louis, ed. Studies in American Indian Literatures 9 (Spring, 1997). Special issue devoted to Vizenor.

Vizenor, Gerald. Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and Metaphors. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990.