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The Heirs of Columbus [Paperback]

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Item Number 93629  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   198
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 31, 1991
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819562491  
EAN  9780819562494  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"If you must read a book on Columbus," declared the Los Angeles Times in its review of The Heirs of Columbus, "this is the one." Gerald Vizenor's novel reclaims the story of Chrisopher Columbus on behalf of Native Americans by declaring the explorer himself to be a descendent of early Mayans and follows the adventures of his modern-day, mixedblood heirs as they create a fantastic tribal nation.

The genetic heirs of Christopher Columbus meet annually at the Stone Tavern at the headwaters of the Mississippi to remember their "stories in the blood" and plan their tribal nation. They are inspired by the late-night talk radio discourses of Stone Columbus, a trickster healer who became rich as the captain of the sovereign bingo barge Santa Maria Casino, anchored in the international waters of the Lake of the Woods. The heirs' plan to reclaim their heritage enrages the government and inspires the tribal nations in a comic tale of mythic proportions.

Vizenor is a mixedblood Chippewa who writes fiction in the trickster mode of Native American tradition, using humor to challenge received ideas and subvert the status quo. In The Heirs of Columbus he "reveals not only how Indians have staved off the tidal wave of assimilation," noted the San Francisco Chronicle, "but also how, through humor and persistence, they sometimes reverse the direction of cultural appropriation and, in the process, transform the alien values imposed on them."

"Vizenor understands the wilder, irrational, half-mad parts of the Discoverer's soul as few people ever have," noted Kirkpatrick Sale in the Nation; "Columbus is appropriated here in an entirely new way, made to be an Indian in service to his Indian descendents." And the Voice Literary Supplement said "Even more rousing than Vizenor's deconstruction of Columbus, though, is his alternative vision of an American identity."

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More About Gerald Vizenor

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Gerald Vizenor is Professor of American Studies and Native American Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Griever: An American Monkey King in China (winner of the American Book Award); Dead Voices: Natural Agonies in the New World; and Chancers: A Novel. He resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Gerald Vizenor currently resides in Santa Fe, in the state of New Mexico. Gerald Vizenor has an academic affiliation as follows - University of California, Berkeley.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( V ) > Vizenor, Gerald   [4  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary   [79254  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical   [11224  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Great Read  Aug 23, 2005
It's unfortunate that this book was offered to people in classrooms with apparently little background info. This is a rich and densely-packed text that requires a huge amount of knowledge about indian affairs (from canada southward), literature, theory, and, well, the book itself is a bibliography of important texts on issues.

Vizenor does a brilliant job of questioning the objectivity of notions such as 'history' and 'race' in a tremendously humerous way, yet keeping enough historical truth that it's difficult to know what this trickster author is making up and what historians have made up (by concensus, of course). It's not something that can be read as an isolated text and understood or enjoyed fully. Crap, I know that I don't 'fully' understand it, but I have enough history and native american literature under my belt to at least nod knowingly a few times.

It's his explorations of race, sovereignty, tribal status, and tricksters that really made this book a treat for me...
Remarkably Bad!  May 11, 2003
I read this book for a college lit. class. I don't even know what to say, this is a waste of paper!!
What the hell?  Dec 4, 2002
Yea this is a good book. Yea it makes a lot of sense too.
Po-Mo? Oh yeah, it's po-mo...  Apr 24, 2002
... but it's also one of the most outstanding examples of Native American (American Indian, or "Indian," as Sherman Alexie calls himself) literature. Gerald Viezenor is a professor of literature at Berkeley, and his contribution to the Indian Lit scene is one of the least-known, most overlooked, and best-constructed books available in this growing field. While it hasn't shared the commercial success of Alexie's books - partly because not many people are AWARE of Viezenor's book, and partly because it is not your average "pick up and read it on the plane" sort of book - "The Heirs of Columbus' is one of the most original novels in years, Indian or otherwise.

The "action" centers around one Stone Columbus, Native American captain of the Santa Maria Casino. Every year, he and the other descendents of Columbus (who actually descended from Jewish Indians who immigrated to the `Old' World) get together and tell tales, and what follows is the result. It would ruin the book to discuss it too much plot-wise, but it's Viezenor's constructs that really set "The Heirs of Columbus" apart.

Indian literature was the first to really mess around with notions of time, narrative, history, and place, all of which have become staples of the po-mo establishment (how's THAT for an oxymoron). Viezenor almost seems to thumb his nose at the anti-establishment that has now become the trendy establishment, tongue firmly in cheek, saying both that "we Indians thought of it FIRST" and "you don't do it RIGHT, let me show you HOW." It's a nice change of pace from the usual blah-blah that most po-mo writers seem to think anyone with a latte will lap up.

The only fault is that "Heirs of Columbus" references a LOT of things that those unfamiliar with Native American culture (indeed, most non-Indians) simply won't understand. Furthermore, Viezenor offers little to no explanation of what these things are, and almost taunts the non-Indian reader with the deluge of them. It violates one of the cardinal rules of literature - that you don't have to explain everything as you go, and that it should be, at least somewhat, universal no matter what culture the reader comes from. But that doesn't detract from the book's overall beauty and fun. If you're interested in Indian literature, "The Heirs of Columbus" is indispensable for your reading list and collection.

Deconstructionist use of Humor and Manicure  Dec 12, 1997
The Heirs of Columbus Humoring the Patients: Gerald Vizenor, in The Heirs of Columbus, uses the image of humor in the blood in a pun that leads the reader through a series of historical medical associations. Vizenor's combination of genetics and story in healing weds the rational and the non-rational in giving the future generations a chance for better survivance. But Vizenor uses the double pun of humor and manicure to reference the beginnings of science in the past mysticism of shamans. Medicine began, in most cultures, with laying on of hands and determining the basic elements of the body. Manicure, or manual cure, implies the laying on of hands and has a sort of mystical reference when the manicurist is an ex-priest: "Padrino de Torres...persuaded the captain and teh judge to sit for a manicure; the judge knew him as a priest and she was surprised that he had turned to hands" (177) The priest is healing through his hands and the Heirs heal through humor. Humor is a pun on the four humors of the body, which needed to be brought into balance in order to make the body healthy and the mind sound. When discovering neurosis, the heirs don't promise to cure fear, but rather to "balance her fear of animals" (Vizenor 137). The connection between technology and myth exists more to show the inadequacy of modern techniques compared to ancient understanding: "Our computer memories and simulations are not yet powerful enough to support what shamans and hand talkers have inherited and understood for thousands of years" (136). The Heirs succeed where the government has failed; it is the stories in the blood rather than the "rationalists, empiricists and logical positivists" (150) which find the secret of creation and heal the abused.

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