Not Enough Indians


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.

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