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Gerald Vizenor weaves an engrossing historical portrayal of Native American soldiers in World War I. Blue Ravens is set at the start of the twentieth century in the days leading up to the Great War in France, and continues in combat scenes at Chateau-Thierry, Montbrehain, and Bois de Fays. The novel contains many of Vizenor's recurrent cultural themes--the power and irony of trickster stories, the privilege of survivance over victimry, natural reason and resistance. After serving in the American Expeditionary Forces, two brothers from the Anishinaabe culture return to the White Earth Reservation where they grew up. They eventually leave for a second time to live in Paris where they lead successful and creative lives. With a spirited sense of "chance, totemic connections, and the tricky stories of our natural transience in the world," Vizenor creates an expression of presence commonly denied Native Americans. Blue Ravens is a story of courage in poverty and war, a human story of art and literature from a recognized master of the postwar American novel and one of the most original and outspoken Native voices writing today. Check for the online reader's companion at blueravens. site. wesleyan. edu.
Favor of Crows is a collection of new and previously published original haiku poems over the past forty years. Gerald Vizenor has earned a wide and devoted audience for his poetry. In the introductory essay the author compares the imagistic poise of haiku with the early dream songs of the Anishinaabe, or Chippewa. Vizenor concentrates on these two artistic traditions, and by intuition he creates a union of vision, perception, and natural motion in concise poems; he creates a sense of presence and at the same time a naturalistic trace of impermanence. The haiku scenes in Favor of Crows are presented in chapters of the four seasons, the natural metaphors of human experience in the tradition of haiku in Japan. Vizenor honors the traditional practice and clever tease of haiku, and conveys his appreciation of Matsuo Basho and Yosa Buson in these two haiku scenes, "calm in the storm / master basho soaks his feet /water striders," and "cold rain / field mice rattle the dishes / buson's koto."Vizenor is inspired by the sway of concise poetic images, natural motion, and by the transient nature of the seasons in native dream songs and haiku. "The heart of haiku is a tease of nature, a concise, intuitive, and an original moment of perception," he declares in the introduction to Favor of Crows. "Haiku is visionary, a timely meditation and an ironic manner of creation. That sense of natural motion in a haiku scene is a wonder, the catch of impermanence in the seasons." Check for the online reader's companion at favorofcrows.site.wesleyan.edu.
"If you must read a book on Columbus," declared the Los Angeles Times in its review of The Heirs of Columbus, "this is the one." Gerald Vizenor's novel reclaims the story of Chrisopher Columbus on behalf of Native Americans by declaring the explorer himself to be a descendent of early Mayans and follows the adventures of his modern-day, mixedblood heirs as they create a fantastic tribal nation.The genetic heirs of Christopher Columbus meet annually at the Stone Tavern at the headwaters of the Mississippi to remember their "stories in the blood" and plan their tribal nation. They are inspired by the late-night talk radio discourses of Stone Columbus, a trickster healer who became rich as the captain of the sovereign bingo barge Santa Maria Casino, anchored in the international waters of the Lake of the Woods. The heirs' plan to reclaim their heritage enrages the government and inspires the tribal nations in a comic tale of mythic proportions.Vizenor is a mixedblood Chippewa who writes fiction in the trickster mode of Native American tradition, using humor to challenge received ideas and subvert the status quo. In The Heirs of Columbus he "reveals not only how Indians have staved off the tidal wave of assimilation," noted the San Francisco Chronicle, "but also how, through humor and persistence, they sometimes reverse the direction of cultural appropriation and, in the process, transform the alien values imposed on them.""Vizenor understands the wilder, irrational, half-mad parts of the Discoverer's soul as few people ever have," noted Kirkpatrick Sale in the Nation; "Columbus is appropriated here in an entirely new way, made to be an Indian in service to his Indian descendents." And the Voice Literary Supplement said "Even more rousing than Vizenor's deconstruction of Columbus, though, is his alternative vision of an American identity."
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