Dead Voices: Natural Agonies in the New World

Gerald Robert Vizenor, Author University of Oklahoma Press $16.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8061-2427-8
This schematic satire pits Native Americans against naturalized ones, much to the detriment of the latter. Divorced from nature, Vizenour fictionally contends, non-Indians have lost the stories that liberate the mind and hold the world together; now they are ``wordies,'' hearing only the dead voices of the printed page and the university lecture. The Native American wise woman Bagese, in contrast, hears great stories. She and the novel's unnamed narrator (a lecturer in ``tribal philosophies'') play a meditation game in which they actually become animals by entering into the beasts' images on tarot-like cards. As the shape-shifting duo transform themselves into bears, fleas and other creatures, the narrator learns from Bagese to hear the voices. Vizenour ( The Heirs of Columbus ) has always been the literary equivalent of a drive-by shooter; anything can become the target of his satiric sensibilities. Here, anthropologists are revealed to have been created out of excrement, and a shaman makes money by using her power to clean up a chemical company's wastes on weekends. The author's words tumble over one another with a poetic ferocity as he celebrates the ``crossblood'' and the drive to survive in a world where the tribes are gone and the voices are dead. He is a true Native American original. ( Sept. )
Reviewed on: 08/31/1992
Release date: 09/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 150 pages - 978-0-8061-2579-4
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