"Louis Owens has the storyteller's gift of cutting to the heart of human drama. Wonderfully rich, full of magic and people who are magically alive, The Sharpest Sight is a fine novel that should be read by all who seek to understand the American Indian search for identity."-James Welch, author of Indian Lawyer, and Winter in the Blood."With The Sharpest Sight, Louis Owens emerges as a strong and distinctive voice in contemporary Native American fiction. He writes with conviction, heart, and insight, and his novel, populated with complicated, passionate men and women, provides an insider's view into a rich fictional world."-Michael Dorris, author of A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, and The Crown of Columbus, with Louise Erdrich.
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(216mm x 139mm x 16mm)
University of Oklahoma Press
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
A debut novel (volume one in the University of Oklahoma's American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series) that's part murder mystery and part Indian vision-quest set in California and a Mississippi swamp during the Vietnam era. Owens evokes a strong sense of culture, place, and Indian spiritual reality. The book announces its strangeness early on: "Attis McCurtain knew he was dead, and in death an ancient memory had awakened...." While Attis's dead body floats down a river and makes its way eventually to the Mississippi swamp, his friend Mundo Morales, a Mexican Catholic, glimpses the floating body and suspects foul play. Surrounded by bigotry and hostility, both from Anglos and mixed-bloods, he begins to investigate. Meanwhile, Attis's younger brother Cole, draft age, goes to the Mississippi swamp to be with Uncle Luther (a Choctaw patriarch). Cole, besides finding himself and his Choctaw identity, is supposed to find and bury Attis's bones. The narrative, then, moves on these several levels, but it's mostly a gritty account whose subtext is storytelling - how "making up stories" is "how they make the world the way they want it." While Mundo deals with a variety of characters both male and female, sympathetic and unsavory, Cole "walks the river" and learns from Uncle Luther. By the close, Owens brings the Mundo investigation to a bloody finish with a barroom knifing and a killing, while Cole completes his education and becomes a man ("more comfortable with the dead...He knows at last who he is"). A first novel (selected by Gerald Vizenor, general editor of the new series) that survives some programmatic patches to evoke a traditional Indian cultural pathway. (Kirkus Reviews)
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