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The Sharpest Sight: A Novel (American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series) Paperback – September 15, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (September 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806125748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806125749
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One rainy night, deputy sheriff Mundo Morales of Amarga, Calif., sees a body floating down the river--the corpse of Attis McCurtain, Morales's childhood friend and Vietnam buddy. But hadn't Attis been confined to a mental institution after brutally murdering the love of his life? The mysteries of this first novel (Choctaw- and Cherokee-descended Owens wrote Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel ) unfold in a familiar American literary landscape: a dusty, "tight-strung little town" riddled with sins, secrets and virulent racism against its Native American and Chicano inhabitants. But Amarga turns out to be more than the sum of its prejudices, betrayals and violent crimes. As in the fictional terrains of Garcia Marquez, the mythic and fantastic animate the town; spirits of the dead and nature watch over the living (sometimes even offering advice), and these forces, rather than the mystery's solution, redeem the townspeople. Unfortunately, Owens's conceit is more interesting than his writing. His prose style is hard-boiled in the extreme, becoming particularly turgid whenever he introduces either female characters or sex. While the author's Native American characters are well drawn, most others who walk the streets of Amarga would be very much at home in a TV movie. This is the first book in Oklahoma's American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Attis McCurtain is a mixed-blood Choctaw Indian whose return from Vietnam to his small California town initiates a chain of events involving self-discovery and the false divisions between this world and the spirit world. Mundo Morales, the Chicano cop who was Attis's best friend, and Hoey and Cole McCurtain, Attis's father and younger brother, all are forced to come to grips with who they are as mixed-blood people in modern America. At the same time they must try to solve the mystery of how Attis ended up dead in a river after his incarceration in a mental institution for the murder of his white girlfriend upon returning from Vietnam. Ghosts and Choctaw soul eaters move throughout this novel as matter-of-factly as do the living characters, assisting Cole with the search for his brother's missing body and Mundo with the search for Attis's murderer, while leading each man deeper into his own roots. A fine inaugural novel for an important new series from one of the premier publishers of works by and about Native Americans.
- Lisa A. Mitten, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Crocker on August 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Sharpest Sight by Louis Owens is a mystery, a police procedural, a thriller, an exploration of identity, and magical realism all rolled up into one excellent novel. Sharpest Sight takes place in a [lightly fictionalized] Salinas Valley, California sometime near the end of the Vietnam War. Attis McCurtain, Vietnam vet and insane killer, has escaped from the state hospital and may or may not be dead. Mundo Morales, who is Mexican-American, Catholic, a Vietnam vet, a sheriff's deputy, and an old friend of Attis', and Cole McCurtain, who is Choctaw-Irish-American, and Attis' younger brother, must each try and unravel the mystery of Attis' disappearance. Mundo is aided by his duty to his buddy, his duty to his position in law enforcement, his love of his wife and child, and the ghost of his grandfather. Cole gets help from his dad Hoey, his Uncle Luther, a Choctaw elder and shaman, Old Lady Blue Wood, another elder and shaman, and his duty to his brother. The local crazed bartender, a twitchy Vietnam vet FBI agent, and the family of the girl Attis killed also play a major role. As the flooded river recedes towards dry river bed, all the characters converge towards a solution to the mystery and in some cases, a greater understanding of self. Potential readers unable to suspend disbelief in order to deal with ghostly grandfathers and magical Choctaw dirty tricks shouldn't even try to wade into this novel. For all others, I recommend that you dive into The Sharpest Sight and see where the flow takes you.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dan Witte on August 5, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Sharpest Sight" reads a little like a murder mystery and a little like a road trip book, though both descriptions fall woefully short of doing this book justice. This is a complex tale of self-discovery and psychic healing set amid a backdrop of Native American and Hispanic culture and history, with Viet Nam flashbacks, fumbling feds and some mildly graphic sex scenes to help keep the action moving forward. While the main characters are vividly drawn, and completely believable and sympathetic, for my money it was some of the secondary characters who made this book worthwhile. The bar owner, Jessard Deal, is particularly entertaining, especially as he disintegrates late in the book. Some of his dialogue is priceless. The same goes for some of the FBI agents, which take on absurd cariciature-like qualities late in the book. Louis Owens has a deft hand with subtle intrigue and the surreal qualities of truth and discovery, and is expert at creating an authentic sense of place and character.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1997
Format: Paperback
up your spine with this mystery evocative of Garcia Marquez and Hillerman rolled into one. Choctaw/Cherokee/Irish Vietnam vet Attis McCurtain is murdered; his friend Mundo Morales and his great uncle Luther know it immediately through vision and dreams. His brother Cole and father Hoey must find the body which authorities believe is still a living psycho on the lam.

As with his other novels, Owens tightly weaves many cultures to achieve a beautiful, funny and suspenseful story. If you're familiar with the mythological alter egos of Attis McCurtain and Diana Nemi it will take your breath away in its intricacy. A quick trip to read up on these two in Frazer's The Golden Bough will bring the story full circle, as manyNative American stories tend to be presented. This book has the sexiest octogenarian couple readers are ever likely to encounter along with surprise players from across cultures and times
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 1997
Format: Hardcover
up your spine with this mystery evocative of Garcia Marquez and Hillerman rolled into one.
Choctaw/Cherokee/Irish Vietnam vet Attis McCurtain is murdered; his friend Mundo Morales and his
great uncle Luther know it immediately through vision and dreams. His brother Cole and father Hoey
must find the body which authorities believe is still a living psycho on the lam.

As with his other novels, Owens tightly weaves many cultures to achieve a beautiful, funny and suspenseful
story. If you're familiar with the mythological alter egos of Attis McCurtain and Diana Nemi it will take your breath away in
its intricacy. A quick trip to read up on these two in Frazer's The Golden Bough will bring the story full circle, as many
Native American stories tend to be presented. This book has the sexiest octogenarian couple readers are ever likely to encounter along
with surprise players from across cultures and times
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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