“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.)