When Watson's son Lucius returns to the treacherous wilderness of the Everglades searching for the truth about his father's death, the coast's lawless inhabitants, alligator poachers and moonshiners hold close their secrets, and a deep uneasiness drifts through the region like a low swamp mist.
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Peter Matthiessen is one of the few American writers ever nominated for the National Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction.
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 Watson trilogy, a project that has been nearly twenty years in the writing. A story of epic scope and ambition, Lost Man's River confronts the primal relationship between a dangerous father and his desperate sons and the ways in which his death has shaped their lives.
Lucius Watson is obsessed with learning the truth about his father. Who was E. J. Watson? Was he a devoted family man, an inspired farmer, a man of progress and vision? Or was he a cold-blooded murderer and amoral opportunist? Were his neighbors driven to kill him out of fear? Or was it envy? And if Watson was a killer, should the neighbors fear the obsessed Lucius when he returns to live among them and ask questions?
The characters in this tale are men and women molded by the harsh elements of the Florida Everglades--an isolated breed, descendants of renegades and pioneers, who have only their grit, instinct, and tradition to wield against the obliterating forces of twentieth-century progress: Speck Daniels, moonshiner and alligator poacher turned gunrunner; Sally Brown, who struggles to escape the racism and shame of her local family; R. B. Collins, known as Chicken, crippled by drink and rage, who is the custodian of Watson secrets; Watson Dyer, the unacknowledged namesake with designs on the remote Watson homestead hidden in the wild rivers; and Henry Short, a black man and unwilling member of the group of armed island men who awaited E. J. Watson in the silent twilight. Only a storyteller of Peter Matthiessen's dazzling artistry could capture the beauty and strangeness of life on this lawless frontier while probing deeply into its underlying tragedy: the brutal destruction of the land in the name of progress, and the racism that infects the heart of New World history.
"Intricately structured, richly documented, utterly convincing . . . certain to linger in the memory like an experience we have lived through but cannot, for all our effort at analysis, comprehend."
-Joyce Carol Oates, The Washington Post Book World
"A novel of high ambition and high achievement. . . . Like Twain and Faulkner, Matthiessen has mastered the knack of achieving a literary effect without viola-ting the authenticity of an unlettered voice."
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
"This novel is Matthiessen at his best-a masterfully spun yarn, a little otherworldly, a dreamlike momentum. . . . Like everything of his, it's also a deep dec-laration of love for the planet."
"The most beautiful and compelling American novel in decades."
"An original and powerful artist . . . who has produced as impressive a body of work as that of any writer of our time. . . . He has immeasurably enlarged our consciousness."
"One of our best writers."
"When all the faddish smoke clears, Peter Matthiessen's work will stand revealed as that of an artist of immense talent, grandeur, and genius."
"One of our few genuine masters."
"The best of the North American capacity for risk, self-knowledge, and the transformation of experience into destiny is to be found in the work of Peter Matthiessen."
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Book Description Harvill Pr, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 1860465803