Shadow Country : A New Rendering of the Watson Legend (Part 2 of 2 parts) (Shadow Country Trilogy #1-3)
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
Peter Matthiessen’s great American epic–Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man’s River, and Bone by Bone–was conceived as one vast mysterious novel, but because of its length it was originally broken up into three books. In this bold new rendering, Matthiessen has cut nearly a third of the overall text and collapsed the time frame while deepening the i
Edgar Artemas Watson (1855-1910)
For seventeen days I was held enthralled by Shadow Country. Once I began it, I was unable to stop. Nothing could have pulled me away from it.
"A New Rendering of the Watson Legend" happens to be the subtitle of Peter Matthiessen's 2008 National Book Award winning novel. The operative word in that subtitle is Legend.
A legend is a story founded in truth, indigenous to the people residing in the re ...more
Here lies Edgar Artemas Watson.
The book opens on a scene of destruction: a hurricane has ravaged the Ten Thousand Islands region of Florida. A posse of Watson's neighbors forms and on the ruined beach they kill Watson as he arrives on shore. The end of this man's life marks the beginning of this epic story. The duty of the rest of the almost 900 pages of this book is to answer these questions: who is Watson and why was he killed? Was it a just or unjust death? Who did he leave behind? Was he a m ...more
My copy of this book is 892 pages, and I understand the original manuscript was like 1300 pages. And then the Decembrists basically sum up Matthiessen's story in less than four minutes.
This very large book is actually comprised of three separate novels (Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River, and Bone by Bone), but each of the novels basically tell the same story from someone else's perspective. This is actually pretty brilliant because you don't actually f ...more
Shadow Country is a searing dissection of turn of the century (circa 1880-1910) Everglades culture, history and character. The focal character is E.J. Watson, sugar cane planter, innovator, patriarch, murderer, and victim.
The novel is comprised of three 'books', all telling the story of the death of Watson from separate points of view: first, various people who witnessed and assessed the events at the time; second, one of Watson's sons, trying (maybe) to reconstruct Watson's life and crimes ...more
Edgar Watson is many things to many people, but he is alwa ...more
I don't think I've come across a book where the writing was so apparently brilliant - disciplined and careful, dialogue true to each character, imaginative - while the subject matter was so unrelentingly raw, rough, and dark. At the end of the read, I was both in awe of this writer's command of storytelling, and fearful of where he might be in his view of the world at ...more
Of the three novels, I am fondest of the first--formerly published as Killing Mister Watson. Matthiessen's vernacular i ...more
This is a long book in three parts. The first part is the story of EJ Watson as seen from the point of view of the community. The second part is seen by one of the sons of EJ as he does research to write a biography about his father. The third part is the story as seen by EJ himself. Occurring in the early 1900s in the south mostly in Southwest Florida we are confronted with the story of a murderer. EJ Watson is also known as Jack Watson and this is the clue that we are dea ...more
Matthiessen comes at the story of turn-of-the-century southwest Florida legend Edgar Watson from all angles -- in Book I, first-person narratives that don't include Wat ...more
It’s a damn long book and sometimes I didn’t care if I got the truth. But that was mainly because I was ready to move on to something els ...more
Book I is a culmination of diary entries/deposition-type statements by many of the people that came into contact with Edgar Watson in SW Florida, with many of the people being the ones who participated in the mass shooting/lynching that ended Watson's life.
Book II is about the ...more
This book is a masterpiece, but don't trust this ordinary reader. Just look at the book jacket and read the quotes from such luminaries as Oates, Bellow, and Dillard. They are in awe of this book and so am I. You'd think that a book which begins with the story's climax--the murder of its protagonist--wouldn't be able to keep you interested for nearly 900 pages. In fact, I lugged this book around everywhere and read it whenever I had a moment to spare. I did not want it to end.
The author's note ...more
I was absolutely enthralled by the convergence of perspectives in this story of the infamous Mr. Watson. For those who didn't know, Watson really existed. A pioneering Everglades planter with a shady background, he was murdered by a mob of his friends and neighbors in Chokoloskee, Florida in the early 19oo's. This novel is not so much a fictionalised account of the events, but an ...more
Edgar Watson, I guess true to what they say about his real lif ...more
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In their wondrous capacity of knowing the Lord’s mind, churchly folks will tell you that He would purely hate to hear such dirty talk. My idea is, He wouldn’t mind it half so much as they would have us think, because even according to their own queer creed, we are God’s handiwork, created in His image, lust, piss, shit, and all. Without that magnificent Almighty lust that we mere mortals dare to call a sin, there wouldn’t be any more mortals, and God’s grand design for the human race, if He exists and if He ever had one, would turn to dust, and dust unto dust, forever and amen. Other creatures would step up and take over, realizing that man was too weak and foolish to properly reproduce himself. I nominate hogs to inherit the Earth, because hogs love to eat any old damned thing God sets in front of them, and they’re ever so grateful for God’s green earth even when it’s all rain and mud, and they just plain adore to feed and fuck and frolic and fulfill God’s holy plan. For all we know, it’s hogs which are created in God’s image, who’s to say?”