The Trickster of Liberty: Tribal Heirs to a Wild Baronage

Gerald Robert Vizenor, Author University of Minnesota Press $19.95 (158p) ISBN 978-0-8166-1629-9
In his superbly written satirical tales, Vizenor draws readers into the world of the Native American tribal trickster, ``a warrior on a coin that never lands twice on the same side.'' The author imaginatively recounts the escapades of a family of Mississippi Chippewa tricksters living on a reservation in northern Minnesota, beginning with the grandfather, Lusterbow, ``the Baron of Patronia.'' The grandchildren include Slyboots Browne, a ``wild avian dreamer'' who manufactures airplanes and trains Chippewa pilots ``for an airborne revolution''; Tune Browne, founder of the New School of Socioacupuncture at the University of California at Berkeley; and Ginseng Browne, who is named on a federal warrant after supplying ginseng to the Communist Chinese. What inspires Vizenor are the adventures of each grandchild and, by extension, the uneasy relationship of contemporary Native Americans to society at large. The stories could be dogmatic in a lesser writer's hands, but Vizenor imbues ethnic commentaries with humor. Tune, for instance, makes comic use of his heritage by ``improving his poses on late-night television shows'' and ``cocking his cheekbones higher . . . to mimic old western photographs.'' A member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, and a novelist and poet with several published works, Vizenor, a masterful storyteller, also lyrically evokes tribal myths. Illustrated. (September)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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