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Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles Paperback – June 25, 1990

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Vizenor's ( Griever ) long-out-of-print peculiar fantasy generally draws more from Indian mythology than from realism, some of its material (such as a reference to Bernadette Devlin) has become dated since its original publication in 1978 as Darkness in Saint Louis: Bearheart . The backdrop is an America that has exhausted its oil supply and descended into chaos. Driven from their Minnesota home when the cedar trees Proude guarded are commandeered for fuel, Proude Cedarfair and his wife, Rosina, set out for New Mexico. On the way they gain assorted companions, including Benito Saint Plumero, who killed a man for love of a female park statue; Pio Wissakodewinini, who was punished for rape by being surgically changed into a woman; and Pure Gumption, a dog with healing powers. They meet dangers, such as the evil gambler, who wagers gasoline against any gamester's life; food fascists who carve up "witches" for restaurant fare; and a horde of people who, in the chemically poisoned environment, have been born crippled. Bestiality and necrophilia also appear in Vizenor's mythical tale, which may have been daring when first published, but now is puerile. Vizenor also wrote Crossbloods (see review above).
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; 1 edition (June 25, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816618526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816618521
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Stripes on May 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've been reading Gerald Vizenor since the late 1980s and this book is still my favorite.
_Bearheart_ is a wild dystopian ride through the American heartland. Some unnamed natural disaster has deprived the United States of its petroleum reserves. Consequently, in order to meet the growing needs for wood fuels, the governmet has nationalized timber on Indian reservations. These actions lead to a chain of events that displace Proude Cedarfair, the guardian a certain cedar grove, from his ancestral lands. The reader journeys with Proude, picking up an assortment of pilgrims along the way, to Pueblo Bonito, New Mexico.
This work deserves to be read alongside classic satiric journeys from Western literature, such as Chaucer's _The Canterbury Tales_ and Voltaire's _Candide_.
When this book was first published, Jimmy Carter was President and the nation's dependance on foreign oil was stimulating new initiatives to drain natural resources from Indian reservations with as little benefit to the inhabitants as possible. Vizenor used this political context to craft a story that pokes fun at conventional ideas regarding tribal peoples, resource exploitation, and a lot more.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Zentao on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Vizenor depicts the harsh reality of the Native children who were taken from their homes by the oh-so-well-meaning children's aid workers (at least, that's what they're called in Canada) in order to "save" them from growing up in the Government-sponsored Native death camps...I mean reservations.
This book is a stream-of-consciousness novel, somewhat similar to "Almanac of the Dead" in style. There are many scenes that really are likely to make many readers wince. But, that said, I really laughed at many of the characters and situations depicted, particularly as the white people (who have managed to wreck their "part" of America) keep trying to steal onto the Native reservations. Yes, this could very well be the truth in a few years when we've turned the rest of the continent into a large open-pit-garbage-dump which we currently seem bent on.
The bottom line: highly recommended but likely to cause laughter that, if you are of European descent, will slowly fade to dismay as the true impact of history sinks in...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Denton on April 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first glace, Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles, is a story about post apocalyptic America, and how a group of American Indians navigate the dangers of the country in an attempt to survive. There's much more to the novel however. Gerald Vizenor deconstructs American Indian identity, uses terminal creeds in relation to everyone who inhabits the planet, and forces the reader to experience the chaos of a world that refuses to follow logic and reason. This novel is worthy of everyone's time and money.
Despite the mature and sometimes unorthodox content, the explanation of terminal creeds, the postmodern writing, and the satire of a world that has drained itself to extinction make this novel highly enjoyable. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic America, where a man named Proude Cedarfair, chief of the Cedar Nation, embarks on a pilgrimage to the southern area of the United States with a varied group of people that takes his band across the broken land of the United States. The United States, having finally run out of fossil fuels, begins to collect and hoard all of the available wood in the country to use as fuel. The government of the United States forces Proude to leave his reservation because of the abundance of trees and wood the reservation contains.
Crows are encountered many times in this novel, and Proude personifies the cunning nature of those animals and is seen as a trickster character, despite the less than optimistic setting. There is also an element of magical realism that permeates the novel, which adds to the science fiction qualities of the book. This novel has many elements of postmodernism thinking and the text reads as stream of consciousness. This book can be confusing to some if complete attention is not given to it.
Make no mistake, this book gets graphic.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By April Wilson on April 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is so baffling, no reader should feel bad about not understanding it. It is innovative and wonderful in its courage to experiment with new kinds of forms. There are also moments that are very funny. It reminds me somewhat of Eastern European novels (Transatlantyk and A Little Hungarian Pornography) in its attempt to challenge the reader. Vizenor is a Native American writer, and his book is an important part of the Native American Literature canon.
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