Sharpshooter: Novel Civil War

David Madden, Author University of Tennessee Press $21 (176p) ISBN 978-0-87049-948-7
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. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/25/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-57233-450-2
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