Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend


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Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend

Joseph Heller said "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. Little wonder, too, that parts of the story of E. Watson call up comparisons with Dostoevsky, Conrad, and, inevitably, Faulkner. In every way, Shadow Country is a bravura performance, at once history, fiction, and myth—as well as the capstone to the career of one of the most admired and admirable writers of our time. I'll just say right here that the book took my sleeve and like the ancient mariner would not let go.

Matthiessen has made his three-part saga into a new thing…. Finally now we have these books welded like a bell, and with Watson's song the last sound, all the elements fuse and resonate…. Anyone wanting an explanation for what happened to Florida can now find it in a single novel, a great American novel. Watson's story is essentially the story of the American frontier, of the conquering of wild lands and people, and of what such empires cost….

Even among a body of work as magnificent as Matthiessen's, this is his great book. Tom LeClair has just finished the third novel in a trilogy.


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‘Shadow Country’ by Peter Matthiessen

Shadow country : a new rendering of the Watson legend. Matthiessen, Peter. Publication Information:. Physical Description:. Personal Subject:. Watson, Edgar J. Subject Term:. Frontier and pioneer life -- Fiction. Murderers -- Fiction. Geographic Term:. Everglades Fla. Biographical fiction.

Peter Matthiessen Life & Works

Historical fiction. Staff View. Prescott College Library. Prescott Public Library. Prescott Valley Public Library.

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Yavapai College Prescott Library. All his trouble come to him from the outside. Watson turned up at Half Way Creek back in , worked on the produce farms awhile, worked in the cane. Hard worker, too, but it don't seem like he hoed cane for the money, it was more like he wanted a feel for our community.

Strong, good-looking feller in his thirties, dark red hair, well made, thick through the shoulders but no fat on him, not in them days. Close to six foot and carried himself well, folks noticed him straight off and no one fooled with him. First time you seen the man you wanted him to like you--he was that kind.

Wore a broad black hat and a black frock coat with big pockets, made him look bulky. Times we was cutting buttonwood with ax and hand saw, two-three cords a day--that's hot, hard, humid work, case you ain't done it--Ed Watson never changed that outfit. Kept that coat on over his denim coveralls, he said, cause he never knew when he might expect some company from up north.

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Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend | The Nile | TheMarket NZ

Might smile a little when he said that but never give no explanation. Folks didn't know where this stranger come from and nobody asked. You didn't ask a man hard questions, not in the Ten Thousand Islands, not in them days. Folks will tell you different today, but back then there weren't too many in our section that wasn't on the run from someplace else. Who would come to these rain-rotted islands with not hardly enough high ground to build a outhouse, and so many miskeeters plaguing you in the bad summers you thought you'd took the wrong turn straight to Hell?

Old Man William Brown was cutting cane, and he listened to them men opining how this Watson feller was so able and so friendly. Old Man William took him a slow drink of water, give a sigh. Willie Brown said, "Well, now, Papa, is that sigh a warnin? Same way I feel the damp. All the same, we noticed quick, you drawed too close to E.

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Watson, he eased out sideways like a crab, gave himself room. One time, my half-uncle Tant Jenkins come up on him letting his water, and Mister Watson come around so fast Tant Jenkins thought this feller aimed to piss on him. By the time Tant seen it weren't his pecker he had in his hand, that gun was halfway back into them coveralls, but not so fast he could not be sure of what he seen. Being brash as well as nervous, Tant says, "Well, now, Mister Watson!

Still es-pectin company from the North? We never knew till later he was on the dodge, but Half Way Creek was too handy to the lawmen for his liking. Ain't nothing much out there today but a few old cisterns, but Half Way Creek had near a dozen families then, more than Everglade or Chokoloskee. Course back in them days there weren't hardly a hundred souls in that whole hundred mile of coast south to Cape Sable. Ain't many would buy a sixty-foot schooner that didn't know nothing about boats.

Time he was done, Ed Watson was one of the best boatmen on this coast. Mister Watson and me cut buttonwood all around Bay Sunday, run it over to Key West, three dollars a cord. I seen straight off that Ed. Watson meant to go someplace, I seen my chance, so I signed on to guide him down around the Islands. I was just back from a year down there, plume hunting for Chevelier; I turned that Frenchman over to Bill House.

We was just young fellers then, a scant fourteen. No school on Chokoloskee so you went to work. Folks ask, "Would you have worked for Watson if you knowed about him what you know today? With so many stories growed up around that feller, who is to say which ones was true? What I seen were a able-bodied man, mostly quiet, easy in his ways, who acted according to our ideas of a gentleman. And that was all we had, ideas, cause we had never seen one in this section, unless you would count Preacher Gatewood, who brought the Lord to Everglade back in and took Him away again when he departed, the men said.

Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend
Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend
Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend
Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend
Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend
Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend
Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend
Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend

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