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Comment: A good, clean ex library issue with usual marks/clean, previously protected, dust jacket. No rips, creases or other markings present to interior/pages. A good spine and corners condition.
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Sharpshooter: Novel Civil War Hardcover – November 27, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

Although set during the Civil War, David Madden's latest novel really takes place in the terrain of the mind. Sharpshooter is a story of the dislocating and disorienting effects of war. The narrator of the story is Willis Carr, who is 13 years old when the story begins. Taken prisoner by the Confederates, he gains his freedom when he joins them as a sharpshooter. As Willis tells his story, he is swept along by events he does not comprehend. This is to be expected from an adolescent boy; however, Willis later discovers that older soldiers have the same problem, only vaguely recollecting the events that unfold around them.

From Publishers Weekly

This fictional Civil War memoir by Madden (The Suicide's Wife) shows how a plain tale, skillfully told, can carry more meaning than ornate plot contrivances and fancy ruminations. Willis Carr is 13 when he goes to war in 1861. He leaves his home in the mountains of eastern Tennessee to tag along with his pro-Union father and brothers on a bridge-burning raid into Confederate territory. Taken captive, Willis enlists in the Rebel army rather than be executed by a firing squad. Even as a young boy, Willis is a crack shot, and he soon becomes a deadly sharpshooter. Serving under General Longstreet, he targets Yankees for four years, surviving Gaines Mill, Gettysburg and the Wilderness. When young Willis finally deserts to go home to his beloved mountains, he is recaptured by Confederate forces and ends up as a guard at the infamous Andersonville prison. There, he is taught to read by a former slave. At war's end, Willis survives one more Civil War horror, the explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana. Willis begins this account as a young man of 28, trying to make sense of his experience, a task he completes only when he is old. Nearing death, he allows himself to have a memory that makes all the other facts and recollections fall into place. Madden suffuses the narrative, dialogue and characters with understated thought and emotion so that it resonates like a true story.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press; 1st edition (November 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870499483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870499487
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,147,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Madden earned an M.A. at San Francisco State, and attended Yale Drama School on a John Golden Fellowship. Writer-in-residence at LSU from 1968 to 1992, Director of the Creative Writing Program 1992-1994, Founding Director of the United States Civil War Center 1992-1999, he is now LSU
Robert Penn Warren Professor of Creative Writing., Emeritus.

In l961, Random House published his first novel, The Beautiful Greed, based on his Merchant seaman experiences. For Warner Brothers, he adapted his second novel, Cassandra Singing, to the screen (not yet produced). The Shadow Knows, a book of stories, won a National Council on the Arts Award, judged by Hortense Calisher and Walker Percy. His second collection, The New Orleans of Possibilities, appeared in 1982. His stories have been reprinted in numerous college textbooks and twice in Best American Short Stories. A Rockefeller Grant, recommended by Robert Penn Warren and Saul Bellow, enabled him to work in Venice and Yugoslavia on his third novel, Bijou, a 1974 Book of the Month Club Alternate Selection. His best-known novel, The Suicide's Wife, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and made into a CBS movie. Pleasure-Dome, On the Big Wind, and Sharpshooter: A Novel of the Civil War are his most recent novels. He has finished a short novel, Abducted By Circumstance, and is finishing the third novel in30 a trilogy London Bridge in Plague and Fire.

His poems and short stories have appeared in a wide variety of publications, from Redbook and Playboy to The Southern Review and Botteghe Oscure. His plays have won many state and national contests; several have been published.

Among his works of literary criticism are: Wright Morris, A Primer of the Novel [major revision published in 2006], Harlequin's Stick, Charlie's Cane, James M. Cain, Revising Fiction, and two collections of his literary essays, The Poetic Image in Six Genres and Touching the Web of Southern Novelists (summer 2006).

He has published essays on Albert Camus, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, Katherine Mansfield, Michel Tournier, William Gaddis, Jules Romains, Emily Bronte, Edward Albee, Graham Greene, Richard Wilbur, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers, Joseph Conrad, Eugene O'Neill, Ross Macdonald, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Wolfe, James Dickey, Ingmar Bergman, Ikira Kurasawa. Best-known of the many books of original critical essays he has edited are Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties, Proletarian Writers of the Thirties, Remembering James Agee, Nathanael West: The Cheaters and the Cheated, Rediscoveries [I and II], Classics of Civil War Fiction, Thomas Wolfe's Civil War, and Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of the Survivors.

He has also edited several innovative textbooks: The Poplar Culture Explosion, Creative Choices, The World of Fiction, A Pocketful of Prose, eight other titles in the Pocketful series from Harcourt Brace, and Studies in the Short Story. He is a former assistant editor of The Kenyon Review and has served on the Advisory Board of several other literary magazines, including Journal of Narrative Theory.

He has given lectures at many conferences and dramatic readings from his fiction at over 100 colleges and universities. Writer-in-Residence at UNC-Chapel Hill, Clark University, Lynchburg College, among others, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Delaware, he held the Chair of Excellence at Austin Peay State University. David Madden: A Writer for All Genres consists of original essays by scholars and creative writers on Madden's writings.

NEW ADDRESS: 118 Church St., Black Mountain, NC 28711 //

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Madden's novel is both entertaining and challenging. The first half is a young adults conversion from non combatant
and Tennessee farm boy through an East Tennessee rail road raider and into the CSA army as a sharpshooter. The second half of the novel presents the soldier after the war as he returns from an alcoholic binge in the West. His personal recollections are hazy but he confronts the question: "Was it war or was it murder?" By touring the
Civil War battlefields and bumping into assorted veterans, some of whom are truthful and some are liars, he confronts his battlefield wounds of his body and his psyche. Not your usual Civil War novel and at times it may make you restless
but Sharpshooter does the work its sets out to do
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donna T. Brumby on February 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a strangely-told Civil War novel. It's the remembrance of Willis Carr, who was drawn into the war at 13 in the hills of East Tennessee. Many localities from that area are mentioned in the story. Sharpshooter is strange because it is told by the narrator many years after the war and he doesn't seem to remember actually being a part of the events. It's a good effort, but could have been even better. Madden's work is pretty well received by critics, probably because he does such a nice job of making "history" readable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Thompson on September 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a unique way of telling the story of a boy from Tennessee, Willis Carr. The first part of the book deals this boy of thirteen who is a sharpshooter in the Confederate Army. In the second half of the book Willis returns from the west where he had a drinking spree. He has a need to come to terms with his part of the Civil War where he had been a sharpshooter. He travels to the battlefields trying to answer his question: was it War or did he commit murder? By Ruth Thompson author of "Natchez Above The River"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By laytonwoman3rd on July 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
A surprising look at the Civil War from the perspective of a man trying to process his own experience many years after the fact. Willis Carr was the product of a Unionist family in East Tennessee. At age 13, he was caught up in a war he did not understand when he followed his father and older brothers on a mission to burn railroad bridges. Captured and offered a choice between joining the rebels and being sent to prison in Tuscaloosa ("The very name sounded like the end of everything holy.") Willis chose the Confederacy, and became a sharpshooter. The first third of the book is Willis's first hand account of his experiences in various battles, from the sharpshooter's nest in the tower of Bleak House overlooking the Kingston Pike and the Tennessee River during the siege of Knoxville, through the horrors of Devil's Den at the battle of Gettysburg, to guard duty at Andersonville Prison, where he first learned to read and write -- in Cherokee -- from a black prisoner. The remainder of the book chronicles his quest, later in life, to sort out his memories, fill in the gaps, and find out "what really happened" during the war by retracing his steps and talking to other survivors along the way. More introspection than action; thoughtful exploration of the mind of a soldier, the importance of physical and temporal perspective, and the fallibility of memory. Quite a remarkable read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One person's fictional memoir of the Civil War, a 13-year-old sharpshooter. Shows that war is as individual as the person fighting in it.
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