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Not Enough Indians: A Novel Hardcover – September 14, 2006

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shearer, probably best known for his work on The Simpsons and This Is Spinal Tap, sets his farcical first novel in the world of Native American–owned casinos. After being "savaged by downsizing, by outsourcing, by plant-closing," the citizens of withering Gammage, N.Y., successfully petition Washington to be recognized as the Filaquonsett tribe so they can build a casino. Their gambling operation has a negative impact on the casino of a neighboring tribe, and that tribe settles the score by having a toxic waste dump built next to the Filaquonsett casino. It's a silly setup, and Shearer uses it to beat home points about greed, materialism and ethnic identity. The book often becomes a morass of easy one-liners ("the process was proceeding at a pace that glaciers and snails would envy"). Stereotypes about Italian-Americans and Native Americans similarly fail to go over the top, instead occupying the queasy middle ground between funny and unfortunate. One bit of inspired nonsense involves a group of diaper-wearing grownups (they consider holding DiaperCon XII in the Filaquonsett reservation), but the scatological humor won't be enough to pull readers through. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Prolific comic actor and writer Shearer, a Saturday Night Live alumnus and the voice of more than a dozen characters on The Simpsons, lodges tongue firmly in cheek for this wickedly funny debut novel. The fictional town of Gammage, New York, seems on the brink of financial ruin until one of its citizens proposes a fiendishly clever plan: petition for Indian tribal status, open a casino, and bask in the glow of cash flow. The "long-lost" Filaquonsett tribe is soon up and running, despite the fact that there's not a Native American in the bunch. From mercurial casino magnates to buzz-cut government drones, Shearer pokes merciless fun at human foibles. There's irony-deficient Gammage school superintendent Roger Gardner, who uses product placement to turn a profit at local schools; Jewish Indian casino owner Joseph Catspaw, obsessed with collecting bad TV figurines; and Indian Affairs bureaucrat Hap Matthews, who would "fade into the woodwork if only the woodwork weren't so colorful." Though Shearer's ending falls a bit flat, readers can bet on lots of guffaws along the way. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Justin, Charles & Co.; First Edition edition (September 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932112464
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932112467
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,318,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sally Friend on October 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a long time Simpsons fan, I was thrilled to see that Harry Shearer had written his first novel, NOT ENOUGH INDIANS, and even more thrilled to see it was partially set in a fictitious town in upstate New York, very much like the type of town I grew up in. Once I started reading, the exciting and hilarious rollercoaster ride began: With his finely honed eye for the absurd and the outrageous, Shearer swept me into the ever-amusing world of small town politics with its overly earnest, self-important players, the machinations of government lobbying, and the well oiled, craftily calculated operatons of a glitzy, cheesy Vegas-style casino, plopped in the middle of New England. Without missing a beat, Shearer nailed every hilarous nuance, and made me laugh so hard, I cried. If you like your comedy sharp, smart and biting, and love a novel populated with a host of characters entirely unaware of their horrific yet charming flaws, then NOT ENOUGH INDIANS is the perfectly delightful and satisfying read you're looking for.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Finster on October 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Harry Shearer. His work tends to fall into one of two categories: singular and personal (like his weblog or radio show); and ensemble (like The Simpsons, or Spinal Tap). Not Enough Indians is interesting because, as a novel, you'd expect it to be personal, but it is actually a wickedly funny ensemble comedy, in the same vein as A Mighty Wind. The characters are all engaging oddballs, and the whole situation (a nowhere town invents itself as an Indian tribe and opens a casino) is both funny and political. I give it an A.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard K. Carson on September 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
I enjoy this book on more of a micro than a macro level. That is, the laughs are to be found more in isolated turns of phrase than in the story. There are many, many funny sentences (example: "Her physical appearance revealed a refreshing lack of vanity"), but the overall experience is less than profound.

There are a lot of characters, and at first I had trouble keeping track of them. Before you dive in, I strongly recommend that you study the major character profiles in the front and form a mental picture of each. If you don't familiarize yourself with these names beforehand, you may find it hard to tell whether the character being introduced is a major one. I recall thinking that with some of the lesser characters, it wasn't really necessary to give them names and a generic description would have been easier to keep straight.

Some readers will consider this book not worth the effort. On the other hand, because the jokes are consistently plentiful, a small random sample might be enough to help you decide whether you want to own the book or not.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By LaLoren on January 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Let's start by saying that I think Harry Shearer is a funny guy, and I don't mind "stereotypes" that include some truth. For example, I found Tony "Loose Slots" Silotta pretty funny, even though I'm Italian-American. But as one of the handful of non-Indians, outside of those working in Indian law or the BIA, with enough knowledge of the real issues to review this book, and given that any American Indian reviewing it would probably be seen as prejudiced, I've got to say that the most knee-slappingly hilarious aspect of this book is the premise that federal recognition could ever be that easy or that the Senate Committee (it is not a subcommittee) on Indian Affairs would or could suddenly push BIA to recognize any Indian nation with so little research, or that a tribe with a majority of members claiming 1/32 Indian blood could ever qualify.

I have to admit, I've never understood why so many people find American Indian gaming such an inherently funny idea (my reading of this book happened to coincide with the viewing of an old Family Guy episode with the same theme) while state-run or state-sanctioned corporate gaming that promises, but rarely delivers, even half the benefits that Indian gaming provides for both their own and surrounding communities isn't seen as an even bigger hoot. Sadly,Shearer buys into all the common--and generally mistaken--notions the average person holds re: Indian Gaming: that just about anyone can call themselves a "tribe" thus gaining federal recognition and a smooth sail into lucrative casinos, and that Indian gaming provides a safe haven for organized crime.

If I recall, recent BIA statistics show that recognition takes an average of 7 years. However, it isn't unusual for it to take as long as twenty given the arcane rules and paperwork involved.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jean Sue Libkind on August 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Bookschlepper reports: In an elongated skit from LeShow, Harry Shearer lampoons the Native American casinos, NPR, the federal government, upstate New York and Albany, lesbians, a Diapercon convention and the mob. The plot is predictable but the side comments are worth the price of admission.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Conner on August 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What should have been a quick little read took me three weeks to get through. I was really looking forward to reading this book, as I love Harry's work with Spinal Tap, The Simpsons, etc. But I just couldn't get into it. Too many characters, not enough focus. It had it's moments, and I appreciated the satirical tone and several humorous passages. But overall I just can't recommend this book to anyone except the most diehard Shearer fans.
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