Four Sheets to the Wind


Cufe Smallhill, a Native American living in Oklahoma, has an unremarkable life. Unlike many Indian families, his family is small, consisting of only his usually silent father Frankie, his mother Cora, and his sister Miri, who left for a life in the city at the first opportunity. But everything changes for Cufe when his father kills himself, leaving little explanation behind. Much to Cora's consternation, Cufe fulfills Frankie's final wish, depositing his body at the bottom of his favorite fishing pond. Because Frankie was in ill health, Cora insists they keep the suicide a secret, and rather than retrieve his father's body from the pond, Cufe arranges for a sham funeral, with Frankie's coffin filled with weights.

The funeral brings out many mourners, including Miri; she quickly discerns the truth behind Frankie's death, and when it becomes clear that her relationship with Cora is as contentious as ever, she makes a quick exit. Before she goes, she invites Cufe to visit her in the city. Normally the idea of Cufe leaving home would be unlikely, but since Frankie's passing, Cufe has felt an emptiness in his life for the first time. Even though his father didn't say much, there's something inexplicable missing from Cufe's life, and he can't seem to fill the hole with drinking, flirting, or even a visit to a shrink. In search of something, he decides to make the trip to visit Miri.

Thus begins Cufe's offbeat journey of mourning. Along the way he encounters all types of people—a simple farmer, a down-on-his-luck traveling salesman, a lovelorn pregnant girl on the verge of being dumped—and they all show him something new about living life, one day at a time. He discovers that Miri's life in the big city is not all it's cracked up to be, and that in her own way she too is searching for something to fill the emptiness inside. And he finds a connection—and perhaps love—with Miri's charming neighbor Francie. Ultimately, Cufe, Miri, and even Cora come to the realization that without that human bond, life is a lot harder than it needs to be. Told with humor and a unique sensibility, Four Sheets to the Wind is an American Indian tale of loss, love, and above all, simply being human.

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