(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Creating a framing device of prologue and epilogue, Vizenor presents vignettes, some stingingly satirical and many based on his experiences in the academic world. In the prologue, Vizenor’s protagonist, Sergeant Alex Hobriser, a name that is clearly satirical, comments on Eastman Shicer, who is both a cultural anthropologist and an aerobics instructor. This juxtaposition of professions provides a clue of what will follow.

Vizenor warns that academic attempts to “harness the trickster in the best tribal narratives and to discover the code of comic behavior, hindered imagination and disheartened casual conversation.” From this iconoclastic base, the author proceeds to use language so unique yet so reflective of Chippewa communicative patterns that it may bewilder Western readers.

The narrative, enclosed in the envelope pattern that creates its structural frame, consists of a selection of vignettes about the grandchildren of Novena Mae Ironmoccasin and Luster Browne and of memoirs by these two. Luster is a caring trickster who tells his tales more to amuse than to inform.

As in most of Vizenor’s writing, characters from previous works recur. Griever de Hocus is a de facto member of Luster Browne’s family, accorded family membership by decree rather than birth. The stories, imbued with a sense of the magical, the mythical, and the mystical, can be read in random order.

Vizenor sets the early vignettes in Bejing or...

(The entire section is 424 words.)


(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.