"Watson's voice is an artistic triumph. . .[ Bone by Bone] may well come to be regarded as a classic." -- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
In Bone by Bone, Peter Matthiessen speaks in the extraordinary voice of the enigmatic and dangerous E. J. Watson, whom we first saw, obliquely, through the eyes of his early twentieth-century Everglades community in Killing Mister Watson.
This astonishing new novel, calling to account the violence, virulent racism, and destruction of the land that fueled the so-called American Dream, points an accusing finger straight into the burning eyes of Uncle Sam. Here is the bloodied child of the Civil War and Reconstruction who dreams of recovering the family plantation. He becomes the gifted cane planter nearing success on a wilderness river when he gives in fatally to his accumulating demons. Powerfully imagined, prodigiously detailed, Bone by Bone is a literary tour de force as bold and ambitious as Watson himself.
"Like a true tragic figure, [Watson] knows and understands; he does not wriggle to save his own skin," said The New York Times. "This is a work of genuine dignity."
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In Bone by Bone, the final chapter of Peter Matthiessen's Everglades trilogy, the man known variously as "Desperado" and "Emperor" Watson finally tells his own story--and a hard, ruthless, and singularly bloody tale it is. Brought up in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War, Watson flees South Carolina after he's tagged for a murder he didn't commit. Bone by Bone follows his exile in the Indian Territories, his arrest for the murder of Belle Star, and his years in Florida, where he struggles to carve a sugar-cane empire out of the Everglades before being gunned down by a howling mob. "There's some that would say that Edgar Watson is a bad man by nature," he muses near the end of his life, but later declares, "I don't believe that men are born with a bad nature." So is Watson's fate nature or nurture? Is he a killer born or a killer made? This question lies at the heart of Matthiessen's tale as well as its precursors, Killing Mister Watson and Lost Man's River. Answering it would mean nothing less than answering the problem of evil itself.
In this case, the evil is inextricably twined with the good. Ed Watson loves his wives, a good laugh, and at least some of his children; he also murders and betrays employees and friends, all the while insisting that he "wanted to be an honest and upright citizen all my life." Somehow--and this is only one of Matthiessen's great achievements--the reader believes him. The reader also believes Watson's other defense: his crimes are no different from those of the great robber barons. His uncle, for instance, quotes South Carolina Governor James Hammond: "Sir, what is it that constitutes character, popularity, and power in the United States? Sir, it is property, and that only!" It is for property that Watson destroys himself and all those around him; it is for property that his son's beloved Everglades are hunted, fished, drained, and cleared to the brink of destruction. Bone by Bone is a distinctively American tragedy, as outsized and ambitious as E.J. Watson himself. --Mary ParkFrom the Back Cover:
" Bone by Bone is a superb novel, one that succeeds dramatically on every level. I read it in great gulps, up each night later than I wanted to be in my hungry impatience to find out more, and more." --Joseph Heller
"A masterpiece." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review
" Bone by Bone has all the lineaments of greatness." -- The Washington Post
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Book Description Vintage, 2000. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "Bone by Boneis a superb novel, one that succeeds dramatically on every level. I read it in great gulps, up each night later than I wanted to be in my hungry impatience to find out more, and more." --Joseph Heller "A masterpiece." --Los Angeles Times Book Review "Bone by Bonehas all the lineaments of greatness." --The Washington Post. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0375701818
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Book Description Vintage Books, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 1st vintage international ed edition. 410 pages. 8.00x5.25x0.75 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0375701818