Sun Eye Moon Eye

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How to describe the plot of Sun Eye Moon Eye? It is not quite one of those books where nothing happens (which artistic books do have the potential to become, whether the author intends it or not), but there is no specific plot beyond a young man growing up in the latter half of the twentieth century. That, however, does not feel like enough. Based on that description, I never would have picked up the book on my own, but I’m very glad I did.

Part of what’s missing from a mere description of the plot is that the protagonist is not a well-off white man looking to find himself but a man who is half-Hopi and shadowed by the death of his father and the cruelty of his uncle. Mostly, though, the appeal of the book is not so much in the story itself as how it is told. Logan Blackfeather’s story is compelling, but it takes time for a book to build up a narrative (and Czyz wisely takes that time). What really captured me was the prose.

From the first page, Czyz demonstrates a remarkable ability for lyricism, bringing the Arizona desert to life in a way that only a man who loves the place could. The descriptions of place are rich and vivid, reveling in the pleasant and the unpleasant alike. By the time one of the characters is revealed to be a photographer, it makes perfect sense; like a photograph, the book does not glamourize or poeticize places but merely shows them as they are.

Czyz brings that same eye to New York City, where a significant portion of the novel takes place. The New York City of his book is rough and crowded but also vibrant, and beautiful for its vibrancy. In time, the reader realizes that he brings the same attention to the characters and their inner lives. These are not the sort of characters who leap off the page and demand the reader’s attention. They are subtler than that. By the time the reader has a good sense of who they are, they already feel real.

At times, reading the book felt like reading a dream. Grounded as it is in the characters and the reality of the world, it isn’t dry and dull, concerned only with the day-to-day. (As I said before, it isn’t just one of those books where nothing really happens.) There’s a touch of mysticism in it, something that may or may not be madness, may or may not be something more.

Reviewed By:

Author Vincent Czyz
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 558 pages
Publisher Spuyten Duyvil
Publish Date 19-Mar-2024
ISBN 9781959556831 Buy this Book
Issue March 2024
Category Modern Literature