Killing Mister Watson

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9780394554006: Killing Mister Watson

Drawn from fragments of historical fact, Matthiessen's masterpiece brilliantly depicts the fortunes and misfortunes of Edgar J. Watson, a real-life entrepreneur and outlaw who appeared in the lawless Florida Everglades around the turn of the century.


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About the Author:

Winner of the National Book Award and the American Book Award, Peter Matthiessen is the author of over fifteen books of fiction and nonfiction, including "The Snow Leopard " (1978), "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" (1965), "Far Tortuga" (1975), "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" (1992), and "Bone by Bone" (1999). Ilan Stavans teaches at Amherst College. He is the author of "The Hispanic Condition" (1995), "Art and Anger" (1996), and "The Riddle of Cantinflas" (1998), and editor of "The Oxford Book of Latin American Essays" (1997).

From Publishers Weekly:

The 20th book by the extraordinarily versatile author of fiction ( At Play in the Fields of the Lord ; Far Tortuga ) and nonfiction ( The Snow Leopard ; In the Spirit of Crazy Horse ) is a curious hybrid. "As a creature from prehistory is recreated from scattered bits of bone fleshed out on an armature of theory, so my idea of Mister Watson has been reimagined from the few hard 'facts' . . . " writes Matthiessen in an introductory note. Set in the Florida Everglades a century ago, the novel is based on the legend of Edgar J. Watson, the man said to have gunned down female outlaw Belle Starr. Matthiessen gives voices to a gamut of characters who knew Watson, and while it is intended that the book read with the deadpan of an oral history, those imagined--or "reimagined"--witnesses provide a rich chorus. The book starts with the murder of Watson by a group of his neighbors. The rest of the story is a slow piecing together of the puzzle that explains how this event came to pass. We never hear directly from Watson; he takes form slowly as facets of his life emerge, until his still-opaque profile remains outlined by all we have heard. With more artistry than In Cold Blood but with some of the same concerns, this is an imaginative and haunting evocation of a time and place, and the paradox of the tenderness and brutality with which real and imagined lives are filled.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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