(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...

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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.