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The Heirs of Columbus Hardcover – August 23, 1991


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press; 1st edition (August 23, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819552410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819552419
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,363,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stone Columbus, the famous explorer's heir and namesake, is a Mississippi bingo tycoon and radio talk show host; he's part Mayan, as, he claims, was Christopher Columbus. In 1992 Stone and his listeners establish Point Assinika, a chunk of the Northwest, as a sovereign Native American nation. Their goal is to make available the Mayan "healing genes," isolated by scientists, to save the world. But tribal robots, a kidnapping and a federal disinformation campaign imperil the new nation, in whose harbor stands a copper statue, the Trickster of Liberty. Writing with manic inventiveness, Vizenor ( Griever ) casts the story of Columbus's invasion of the New World as a lyrical trickster tale, full of twists, shamans and subversive humor. Although Vizenor, a mixed-blood Chippewa, punctures the Eurocentric worldview, much of the humor is strained, as in his caricature of Christopher Columbus as a romantic with an enormous, clubbed, twisted penis.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

"Columbus arises in tribal stories that heal with humor the world he wounded," Vizenor says in the epilog of his latest novel. Native American writers are making sure their voices are heard in the quincentenary examination of Columbus's voyage. Hot on the heels of Michael Doris and Louise Erdrich's The Crown of Columbus ( LJ 3/15/91) comes this totally different treatment of the same territory. "The Heirs of Columbus" presented in Vizenor's intriguing novel are described by their critics as a "ragtag group of rebellious, uneducated mixedbloods." The Heirs believe themselves to be the actual genetic heirs of * Christopher Columbus, whom they believe to be a crossblood himself, the result of Mayan exploration of Europe. As their part of the quincentenary celebrations, the Heirs create a sovereign tribal nation, honoring humor and common sense and dedicated to healing with genetic therapies. Vizenor tells the story with his unique blend of cuttingedge fiction and tribal myth, mixing the realistic and the fantastic. Recommended.
- Debbie Tucker, Cincinnati Technological Coll.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jason N. Mical on April 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
... 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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Pearson on August 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
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...
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By pstradinger@whitworth.edu on December 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a college lit. class. I don't even know what to say, this is a waste of paper!!
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1 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nick on December 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Yea this is a good book. Yea it makes a lot of sense too.
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