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Lost Man's River

(Shadow Country Trilogy #2)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  432 ratings  ·  36 reviews
When his novel Killing Mister Watson was published in 1990, the reviews were extraordinary. It was heralded as "a marvel of invention . . . a virtuoso performance" (The New York Times Book Review) and a "novel [that] stands with the best that our nation has produced as literature" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now Peter Matthiessen brings us the second novel in his Wats ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published September 29th 1998 by Vintage (first published October 21st 1997)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Lost Man’s River” is the second novel in Matthiessen’s Watson Trilogy. But in this 1997 work, he approaches the story from a different direction.

Lucius Watson has heard the rumors about his father: Edgar J. Watson. Could they possibly be true? Was he a pillar of the community, killed by a mob of townspeople because they were envious of his success? Or, was he a cold-blooded killer, publicly executed out of fear for their own safety?

Rooted in the legend of “the Watson killing,” Matthiessen has
David Ball
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
My Grandmother passed this book on to me along with Killing Mister Watson the last time I saw her - it must nearly twenty years ago now. She always had an uncanny ability to find books for me, regardless of my stage of life. This was no mean feat, as although we spent considerable time together when I was growing up in Winnipeg, my family moved away when I was quite young. So for her to be able to figure out what I would like at 12, 22, and 32 years of age - with increasingly infrequent contact ...more
Sep 04, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I travel I see some people in the subway or on a street and I think to myself that I would like to know more about them...where they live...what they like and dislike...and who they mingle with.
This book is a fictional account of such meetings, except these are long lost family members from multiple marriages and illicit relationships from years gone by. Matthiessen is a great story teller and makes you want more. This is not a short book, and the length allows the author to introduce so m
Hal Brodsky
It is difficult to know how to rate this book. The writing is beautiful and Matthiessen tells a 540 page story mostly through authentic Southern dialogue. On the other hand, the author is maddingly self-indulgent: This story could have been told in half the number of pages and it would have been a better read had he done so.
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lost Man's River is Part 2 of the trilogy of Matthiessen called Shadow Country. Part 2 tells the story of Lucius, one of Edgar Watson's sons, in the form of a third person narrative. While initially an alcoholic, Lucius succeeds in righting his life and becomes a PhD and notable historian. He promised conclusions such as:

"Good and evil we known in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably (John Milton - Areopagitica)."

"A man's life of any worth is a continual allegory - and ver
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sequel follows "Killing Mister Watson" with the story of his son, Lucius, trying to find out the truth of his father's life and death. He does...but he must be about 80 years old when he does. Time passes very slowly in the SW Florida everglades country and somethings are best left alone.

I give it only three stars because it is a 350 page story but it takes the author 500+ pages to tell it. I also had difficulty with the chronology of the story. Some of the characters witnessed the death of Mr.
James Murphy
Sawgrass, shell hammock, tree line, sun, water, sky, wall of clouds on the horizon, mangrove. As reader I stood in the middle of this, lost, peering in every direction for rescue. That's not to say I didn't like it--I did. Matthiessen's a wonderful writer, able to describe landscapes, the movement of birds, wind on the water poetically, able to detail characters and their motives clearly. Give yourself some time when you read him--you'll be impressed. But there are too many characters. It's a si ...more
This is the second book of an amazing trilogy set in south Florida by an important American author -- the author was so deep into this story that he rewrote the trilogy into a one volume version, Shadow Country, which won the National Book Award in 2008.
The first volume of this, Killing Mr. Watson, is told from multiple viewpoints, the second volume is follows the life of Mr. Watson's third son, Lucius, as he attempts to puzzle out the character and life of his much loved father. Was Mr. Watso
Jan 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really tried to stay with this book, reading almost half way through, but it just didn't go anywhere for me. I kept wondering where the story was going. It just didn't come together for me.

I have to get into the main characters for a book to keep me captivated. Again, this didn't even come close.
Deb W
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this using the RBdigital app on my phone and when I accidentally went from somewhere in chapter five to chapter eleven I discovered I didn't care enough about the story to find my back.

It's an okay story, great if you want a sense of post-Civil War Florida. If I come across a print copy I would probably pick it up again.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A pandemic may have been the wrong time to read this book for me. It has all of Peter Matthiessen's mastery of language but grew tiresome as he interviews family member after family member trying to determine whether his fictional father was a serial killer or a nice man.
Ian Billick
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meditation on truth. Very different than killing Watson yet still quite engaging.
Rue Matthiessen
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm biased.
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Mattheissen, both is fiction and non-, but this one was really strange. (Granted, I didn't red the first part of the Watson trilogy.) There is essentially no plot, just an aggrieved son trying to salvage his murdered father's reputation. The theme is memory and how fickle it can be, plus an examination of what is "truth."
Lucius goes from faulty informant to faulty informant. Too many characters and their connections just confused me. I wish he's just taken NO for an answer--no,
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a reason the Goodreads blurb for this book starts by praising Matthiessen's other works. Killing Mr. Watson is a great read, and Far Tortuga is in my top 10 of all time. This follows the child of Mister Watson as he seeks to find the "truth" about his father. Was Watson a deranged killer, a man defending his homestead? Was he killed by a righteous mob, or heartless lynchers?

I do not recommend picking this up unless you have read Killing Mr. Watson. You will be able to follow the story,
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-mod
***1/2 for the novel, ***** for George Guidall's masterful narration (this novel is about storytelling and therefore should be listened to as an audiobook).
This is book 2 in Mr. Matthiessen's WATSON TRILOGY. In LOST MAN'S RIVER the main theme is Truth or TRUTHINESS: what should we believe is true? Is truth democratic, meaning the belief of the majority trumps the belief of the one? Is a historian's conclusion more veracious than an ancient redneck's eyewitness account of the same incident? Are r
Karen Klink
Excellent writing. For me, this is the type of book you read slowly, not the type you cannot put down. I have put it down and picked it up again for about three months now, in between reading other books. Still, I do keep picking it up. It is full of accounts of many different people of an incident that happened in the past, along with many of their extraneous memories of the time, and sometimes it drags on a bit. You wander into someone's house somewhere in the backwoods of South Florida, settl ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matthiessen tells a great yarn that holds strong in no small part due to the intimate knowledge of the land, history, creatures, lore, speech, names, and people who inhabit the places he guides the reader through along the way. Stitched into this vivid landscape is a timeless theme of humans struggling with their past, their present, and the truth and myths of both. This theme will cut deep and ring a deep sounding in the heart and mind bays of anyone who has contemplated the contradictory natur ...more
David Ward
Lost Man’s River (Shadow Country Trilogy #2) by Peter Matthiessen (Random House 1997) (Fiction). This is the second book in the Shadow Country trilogy. In this volume, Lucious Watson, second son of the assassinated Edgar Watson, shows up in the Everglades asking dangerous questions about how and why his father was shot by a mob of neighbors and townsfolk. Is this innocent information seeking, or do these questions have a darker ulterior motive? My rating: 8/10, finished 1999.
Tom Baker
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Lost Man's River was like being lost at a family reunion for a fortnight. On and on the old forgotten stories are repeated and repeated with a different slant each time. The writing is wonderful. The locale is memorable. Sometimes I think he went too far with too many characters resulting in a certain lack of focus for the good of the story. Everything was resolved in the last 2-3 chapters. I did like the ending.
Jul 10, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
Incredibly boring. Don't know what happened because Killing Mister Watson was so good.

This book was like throwing dead batteries at cows while listening to the live story of George Burns, narrated by George Burns, all the while having that guy from Wild America whimper about the destruction of the Everglades.

Good bye Mr. Matthiessen.
I really wanted to like this book - but maybe I must give Peter Matthiessen another shot, if/when I can find a copy of The Snow Leopard (the book that was recommended by the person who said Matthiessen was wonderful).
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love reading anything by this author. Lost Man's River portrays the life of Edgar J. Watson, who lived in the Florida Everglades at the turn of the century. It was hard to follow at times, but well worth the effort to stay with it. This is a fine book that is the second in a trilogy.
John North
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read my review on Amazon. It's tasty, if I do say so myself.
Feb 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I don't typically find Matthiessen's fiction as compelling as his nonfiction. It's still an interesting story, though.
Jan 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
FINALLY, I finished it. This one was more of a slog than Killing Mr. Watson, but I'm so stuck on the story that I have to immediately start the third and final book in the series.
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting follow up to Killing Mr. Watson. It could have used tighter editing in some sections but I love Matthiessen's characters and writing.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: florida
The second book in a series of three about the mysterious Mr. Watson.
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I normally love Matthiessen - "Killing Mr. Watson" is one of my all-time favorite books. Not sure what happened here...
Tim O'Neill
Feb 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: florida-fiction
Follow up to Killing Mister Watson (2nd in the trilogy) with a lot of characters which seemed confusing until your into the book and all the relations click. Well written but a bit too long.
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Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.

Other books in the series

Shadow Country Trilogy (3 books)
  • Killing Mister Watson (Shadow Country Trilogy #1)
  • Bone by Bone

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