(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Vizenor’s work captures the unique spirit of a people who hold a worldview closely attuned to animism. Many Eurocentric people find this worldview incomprehensible; talking stones and plants that react to human commands lie outside their conceptual contexts. Vizenor nevertheless has devoted his life to tapping into this worldview, bent on informing a broad reading public without debasing native materials upon which any legitimate Native American writing is necessarily predicated.

Vizenor tempers his presentations with a sardonic wit and a raucous humor, both of which help the uninitiated to relate to this literature. His standing as one of the foremost writers of haiku in English helps to explain the sharpness of imagery in much of his prose. Added to his broad and deep understanding of the American Indian themes and legends about which he writes is Vizenor’s comprehensive understanding of conflict between Native American and the dominant culture. One of the most prolific—although not the best-known—Native American writers, Vizenor heads the avant-garde of this genre.