25 Books to Read Before You Die
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


The Powell's Playlist | August 8, 2014

Peter Mendelsund: IMG The Powell's Playlist: Water Music by Peter Mendelsund



We "see" when we read, and we "see" when we listen. There are many ways in which music can create the cross-sensory experience of this seeing...... Continue »
  1. $11.87 Sale Trade Paper add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$40.00
New Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
4 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z
5 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z

Shadow Country (Modern Library)

by

Shadow Country (Modern Library) Cover

ISBN13: 9780679640196
ISBN10: 0679640193
All Product Details

 

Awards

2008 National Book Award for Fiction

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Peter Matthiessen's great American epic — Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River, and Bone by Bone — was conceived as one vast, mysterious novel, but because of its length it was originally broken up into three books. In this bold new rendering, Matthiessen has cut nearly a third of the overall text and collapsed the time frame while deepening the insights and motivations of his characters with brilliant rewriting throughout. In Shadow Country, he has marvelously distilled a monumental work, realizing his original vision.

Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him, in a killing that obsessed his favorite son.

Shadow Country traverses strange landscapes and frontier hinterlands inhabited by Americans of every provenance and color, including the black and Indian inheritors of the archaic racism that, as Watson's wife observed, still casts its shadow over the nation.

Peter Matthiessen's lyrical and illuminating work in the Watson narrative has been praised highly by such contemporaries as Saul Bellow, William Styron, and W. S. Merwin.

Review:

"Matthiessen's Watson trilogy is a touchstone of modern American literature, and yet, as the author writes in a foreword of this reworking, with the publication of Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River and Bone by Bone, he felt, 'after twenty years of toil... frustrated and dissatisfied.' So after 'six or seven' years of 're-creation' — rewriting many passages, compressing the timeline, shortening the work by some 400 pages and fleshing out supporting cast members (notably black farmhand Henry Short) — the three books are in one volume for the first time, and the result is remarkable. Florida sugarcane farmer and infamous murderer — the latter bit according to legend, of course — Edgar J. Watson is brought to life through marvelous eyewitness accounts and journal entries from friends, family and enemies alike. Book One (formerly Killing Mister Watson) creates a vivid portrait of the untamed southwest Florida of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and recounts Watson's life — with questionable accuracy — beginning with his arrival in south Florida and replaying key events leading up to his being gunned down in the swamps. Watson, who stands accused of murdering a young couple who won't leave his land, is roundly despised and feared, so much so that parents frighten their children into obedience by threatening 'a visit from Watson.' The second book takes place several decades after Watson's murder and relates the travails of Watson's son, Lucius, now a WWI veteran and scholar, as he tries to write a true account of his father's life. Lucius journeys back to his childhood home in search of answers from the same people who saw his father killed. As he investigates the contradictory claims and rumors (like that of a 'Watson Pay Day,' when Watson would murder his farmhands rather than pay them), he tracks down his long-lost brother, Robert, and learns a horrible family secret. The final piece is perhaps the best, taking the form of Watson's chilling memoir. Recounting his life, from the years of paternal abuse right up until his jaw-dropping perspective on the day of his death, Watson reveals his strained relationship with his children, a personality crisis with his scabrous alter ego and the truth behind the many myths. Where Watson was a magnificent character before, he comes across as nothing short of iconic here; it's difficult to find another figure in American literature so thoroughly and convincingly portrayed. When Watson delivers his final line, it's as close as most will come to witnessing a murder." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Peter Matthiessen has done great things with the Watson trilogy. It's the story of our continent, both land and people, and his writing does every justice to the blood fury of his themes." Don DeLillo

Review:

"Magnificent and capacious....Finally now we have these books welded like a bell, and with Watson's song the last sound, all the elements fuse and resonate....[A] breathtaking saga." The Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Slimmed down, Shadow Country probably works better than the original trilogy. Anyone wanting an explanation for what happened to Florida can now find it in a single novel, a great American novel." The Miami Herald

Review:

"Shadow Country takes us there in unforgettable fashion. Even among a body of work as magnificent as Matthiessen's, this is his great book." St. Petersburg Times

Review:

"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." The New York Review of Books

Review:

"Gorgeously written and unfailingly compelling, Shadow Country is the exhilarating masterwork of [Matthiessen's] career, every bit as ambitious as Moby Dick." National Geographic Adventure magazine

Synopsis:

This landmark one-volume reworking of Matthiessen's Watson trilogy — Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River, and Bone by Bone — reveals one of America's finest writers at the peak of his career.

Synopsis:

2008 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER

Peter Matthiessens great American epic-Killing Mister Watson, Lost Mans River, and Bone by Bone-was conceived as one vast mysterious novel, but because of its length it was originally broken up into three books. In this bold new rendering, Matthiessen has cut nearly a third of the overall text and collapsed the time frame while deepening the insights and motivations of his characters with brilliant rewriting throughout. In Shadow Country, he has marvelously distilled a monumental work, realizing his original vision.

Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him, in a killing that obsessed his favorite son.

Shadow Country traverses strange landscapes and frontier hinterlands inhabited by Americans of every provenance and color, including the black and Indian inheritors of the archaic racism that, as Watsons wife observed, "still casts its shadow over the nation."

Peter Matthiessens lyrical and illuminating work in the Watson narrative has been praised highly by such contemporaries as Saul Bellow, William Styron, and W. S. Merwin. 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."

Praise for Shadow Country

Shadow Country is altogether gripping, shocking, and brilliantly told, not just a tour de force in its stylistic range, but a great American novel, as powerful a reading experience as nearly any in our literature. This magnificent, sad masterpiece about race, history, and defeated dreams can easily stand comparison with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men. Little wonder, too, that parts of the story of E.J. 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.” — The New York Review of Books

“Magnificent and capacious…. 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….a breathtaking saga.” — The Los Angeles Times

Gorgeously written and unfailingly compelling, Shadow Country is the exhilarating masterwork of [Matthiessens] career, every bit as ambitious as Moby Dick.” — National Geographic Adventure magazine

“Peter Mattiessen consolidates his epic masterpiece of Florida — and crafts something even better…[He] deserves credit for decades of meticulous research and obsessive details and soaring prose that converted the Watson legend into critically acclaimed literature….Anyone wanting an explanation for what happened to Florida can now find it in a single novel, a great American novel.” — Miami Herald

“Matthiessen is writing about one man's life in Shadow Country, but he is also writing about the life of the nation over the course of half a century. 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.” — St. Petersburg Times

Shadow Country is a magnum opus. Matthiessen is meticulous in creating characters, lyrical in describing landscapes, and resolute in dissecting the values and costs that accompanied the development of this nation.” --Seattle Times

“Shadow Country” is an ambitious, lasting, and meaningful work of literature that will not soon fade away. It is a testament to Mr. Matthiessens integrity as an artist that he felt compelled to return to the Watson material to produce this work and satisfy his original vision….a multifaceted work that can be read variously or simultaneously as a psychological novel, a historical novel, a morality tale, a political allegory, or a mystery. — East Hampton Star

“Matthiessens Watson trilogy is a touchstone of modern American literature…this reworking…is remarkable….Where Watson was a magnificent character before, he comes across as nothing short of iconic here; its difficult to find another figure in American literature so thoroughly and confincingly portrayed.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review, Pick of the Week

“Matthiessen has reinvigorated and rejoined the trilogys novels…a mosaic about the life and lynch-mob death of a turn-of-the century Florida Everglades sugar planter and serial killer named E. J. Watson — into the 900-plus-page Shadow Country. This is no mere repackaging: Four hundred pages were cut from the novels, previous background characters now tromp to the foreground, and the books rangy, Faulknerian essence is rendered more digestible. Deliciously digestible, that is; this is a thick porterhouse of a novel.” — Mens Journal

"The fiction of Peter Matthiessen is the reason a lot of people in my generation decided to be writers. No doubt about it. SHADOW COUNTRY lives up to anyone's highest expectations for great writing." — Richard Ford

"Peter Matthiessen is a brilliantly gifted and ambitious writer, an inspired anatomist of the American mythos. His storytelling skills are prodigious and his rapport with his subject is remarkable." — Joyce Carol Oates

"Peter Matthiessen's work, both in fiction and non-fiction, has become a unique achievement in his own generation and in American literature as a whole. Everything that he has written has been conveyed in his own clear, deeply informed, elegant and powerful prose. The Watson saga-in-the-round, to which he has devoted nearly thirty years, is his crowning achievement. SHADOW COUNTRY, his distillation of the earlier trilogy, is his transmutation of it to represent his original vision. It is the quintessence of his lifelong concerns, and a great legacy." — W.S. Merwin

About the Author

Peter Matthiessen has written eight novels, including At Play in the Fields of the Lord (nominated for the National Book Award) and Far Tortuga, and also a book of short stories, On the River Styx. His parallel career as a naturalist and environmental activist has produced numerous acclaimed works of nonfiction, most of them serialized in The New Yorker; these include The Tree Where Man Was Born (another National Book Award nominee) and The Snow Leopard (a National Book Award winner). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1974.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Rick Vigorous, July 29, 2014 (view all comments by Rick Vigorous)
Sprawling over many decades, the story is about the ruthless frontiersman and sugarcane planter Edgar Watson, who is followed by death as he moves from town to town along the Florida coast. This sort of character will be familiar to readers who have seen the film There Will Be Blood, or read the corresponding book by Upton Sinclair. In the preface, Mathiessen describes how he developed Watson’s character: he certainly wanted him to be bad, but not purely evil, since such characters aren’t interesting (cf. Voldemort). Thus, partly balancing Watson’s hair-trigger temper and selfishness are his willingness to work hard and provide for his family.

Mathiessen incorporates a strong sense of place into his novel, which is set on the southwest Florida coast. Spanish moss, pileated woodpeckers, and mangrove trees all make occasional appearances. A well known conservationist, he makes many of his values clear in the story--not in an obvious, preachy sort of way, but instead through his tone or by portraying the racists and egret poachers as nasty characters for whom the reader has little sympathy. Stylistically, I thought some aspects were quite clever. The first of the three main sections has a different narrator for each chapter, with each member of the little island community contributing to the narrative, and from these somewhat blurry perspectives a multifaceted portrait of the enigmatic E.J. Watson begins to emerge. The second section follows Watson’s son years after his father’s death. (This middle part is not quite as strong as the others, as the author himself admits in the preface.) The reader’s curiosity continues to build until the third section, when Mathiessen finally gives us exactly what we want: the whole story told candidly from Watson’s own perspective.

On the whole the story was compelling and richly deserving of the National Book Award that it won. Mathiessen created a complex and fascinating character who certainly leaves a mark on the reader.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Lawrence Coates, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Lawrence Coates)
A masterpiece, taking on the large themes of race and environmental exploitation in America.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679640196
Author:
Matthiessen, Peter
Publisher:
Modern Library
Subject:
Frontier and pioneer life
Subject:
Murderers
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Biographical fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Modern Library Chronicles
Publication Date:
April 2008
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 MAP
Pages:
912
Dimensions:
8.34x6.09x1.88 in. 2.27 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. To Siberia
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (Oprah's...
    Used Hardcover $5.50
  3. Home
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  4. Scat Used Trade Paper $3.50
  5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  6. Night Train to Lisbon
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Shadow Country (Modern Library) New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$40.00 In Stock
Product details 912 pages Modern Library - English 9780679640196 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Matthiessen's Watson trilogy is a touchstone of modern American literature, and yet, as the author writes in a foreword of this reworking, with the publication of Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River and Bone by Bone, he felt, 'after twenty years of toil... frustrated and dissatisfied.' So after 'six or seven' years of 're-creation' — rewriting many passages, compressing the timeline, shortening the work by some 400 pages and fleshing out supporting cast members (notably black farmhand Henry Short) — the three books are in one volume for the first time, and the result is remarkable. Florida sugarcane farmer and infamous murderer — the latter bit according to legend, of course — Edgar J. Watson is brought to life through marvelous eyewitness accounts and journal entries from friends, family and enemies alike. Book One (formerly Killing Mister Watson) creates a vivid portrait of the untamed southwest Florida of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and recounts Watson's life — with questionable accuracy — beginning with his arrival in south Florida and replaying key events leading up to his being gunned down in the swamps. Watson, who stands accused of murdering a young couple who won't leave his land, is roundly despised and feared, so much so that parents frighten their children into obedience by threatening 'a visit from Watson.' The second book takes place several decades after Watson's murder and relates the travails of Watson's son, Lucius, now a WWI veteran and scholar, as he tries to write a true account of his father's life. Lucius journeys back to his childhood home in search of answers from the same people who saw his father killed. As he investigates the contradictory claims and rumors (like that of a 'Watson Pay Day,' when Watson would murder his farmhands rather than pay them), he tracks down his long-lost brother, Robert, and learns a horrible family secret. The final piece is perhaps the best, taking the form of Watson's chilling memoir. Recounting his life, from the years of paternal abuse right up until his jaw-dropping perspective on the day of his death, Watson reveals his strained relationship with his children, a personality crisis with his scabrous alter ego and the truth behind the many myths. Where Watson was a magnificent character before, he comes across as nothing short of iconic here; it's difficult to find another figure in American literature so thoroughly and convincingly portrayed. When Watson delivers his final line, it's as close as most will come to witnessing a murder." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Peter Matthiessen has done great things with the Watson trilogy. It's the story of our continent, both land and people, and his writing does every justice to the blood fury of his themes."
"Review" by , "Magnificent and capacious....Finally now we have these books welded like a bell, and with Watson's song the last sound, all the elements fuse and resonate....[A] breathtaking saga."
"Review" by , "Slimmed down, Shadow Country probably works better than the original trilogy. Anyone wanting an explanation for what happened to Florida can now find it in a single novel, a great American novel."
"Review" by , "Shadow Country takes us there in unforgettable fashion. Even among a body of work as magnificent as Matthiessen's, this is his great book."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Gorgeously written and unfailingly compelling, Shadow Country is the exhilarating masterwork of [Matthiessen's] career, every bit as ambitious as Moby Dick."
"Synopsis" by , This landmark one-volume reworking of Matthiessen's Watson trilogy — Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River, and Bone by Bone — reveals one of America's finest writers at the peak of his career.
"Synopsis" by , 2008 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER

Peter Matthiessens great American epic-Killing Mister Watson, Lost Mans River, and Bone by Bone-was conceived as one vast mysterious novel, but because of its length it was originally broken up into three books. In this bold new rendering, Matthiessen has cut nearly a third of the overall text and collapsed the time frame while deepening the insights and motivations of his characters with brilliant rewriting throughout. In Shadow Country, he has marvelously distilled a monumental work, realizing his original vision.

Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him, in a killing that obsessed his favorite son.

Shadow Country traverses strange landscapes and frontier hinterlands inhabited by Americans of every provenance and color, including the black and Indian inheritors of the archaic racism that, as Watsons wife observed, "still casts its shadow over the nation."

Peter Matthiessens lyrical and illuminating work in the Watson narrative has been praised highly by such contemporaries as Saul Bellow, William Styron, and W. S. Merwin. 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."

Praise for Shadow Country

Shadow Country is altogether gripping, shocking, and brilliantly told, not just a tour de force in its stylistic range, but a great American novel, as powerful a reading experience as nearly any in our literature. This magnificent, sad masterpiece about race, history, and defeated dreams can easily stand comparison with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men. Little wonder, too, that parts of the story of E.J. 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.” — The New York Review of Books

“Magnificent and capacious…. 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….a breathtaking saga.” — The Los Angeles Times

Gorgeously written and unfailingly compelling, Shadow Country is the exhilarating masterwork of [Matthiessens] career, every bit as ambitious as Moby Dick.” — National Geographic Adventure magazine

“Peter Mattiessen consolidates his epic masterpiece of Florida — and crafts something even better…[He] deserves credit for decades of meticulous research and obsessive details and soaring prose that converted the Watson legend into critically acclaimed literature….Anyone wanting an explanation for what happened to Florida can now find it in a single novel, a great American novel.” — Miami Herald

“Matthiessen is writing about one man's life in Shadow Country, but he is also writing about the life of the nation over the course of half a century. 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.” — St. Petersburg Times

Shadow Country is a magnum opus. Matthiessen is meticulous in creating characters, lyrical in describing landscapes, and resolute in dissecting the values and costs that accompanied the development of this nation.” --Seattle Times

“Shadow Country” is an ambitious, lasting, and meaningful work of literature that will not soon fade away. It is a testament to Mr. Matthiessens integrity as an artist that he felt compelled to return to the Watson material to produce this work and satisfy his original vision….a multifaceted work that can be read variously or simultaneously as a psychological novel, a historical novel, a morality tale, a political allegory, or a mystery. — East Hampton Star

“Matthiessens Watson trilogy is a touchstone of modern American literature…this reworking…is remarkable….Where Watson was a magnificent character before, he comes across as nothing short of iconic here; its difficult to find another figure in American literature so thoroughly and confincingly portrayed.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review, Pick of the Week

“Matthiessen has reinvigorated and rejoined the trilogys novels…a mosaic about the life and lynch-mob death of a turn-of-the century Florida Everglades sugar planter and serial killer named E. J. Watson — into the 900-plus-page Shadow Country. This is no mere repackaging: Four hundred pages were cut from the novels, previous background characters now tromp to the foreground, and the books rangy, Faulknerian essence is rendered more digestible. Deliciously digestible, that is; this is a thick porterhouse of a novel.” — Mens Journal

"The fiction of Peter Matthiessen is the reason a lot of people in my generation decided to be writers. No doubt about it. SHADOW COUNTRY lives up to anyone's highest expectations for great writing." — Richard Ford

"Peter Matthiessen is a brilliantly gifted and ambitious writer, an inspired anatomist of the American mythos. His storytelling skills are prodigious and his rapport with his subject is remarkable." — Joyce Carol Oates

"Peter Matthiessen's work, both in fiction and non-fiction, has become a unique achievement in his own generation and in American literature as a whole. Everything that he has written has been conveyed in his own clear, deeply informed, elegant and powerful prose. The Watson saga-in-the-round, to which he has devoted nearly thirty years, is his crowning achievement. SHADOW COUNTRY, his distillation of the earlier trilogy, is his transmutation of it to represent his original vision. It is the quintessence of his lifelong concerns, and a great legacy." — W.S. Merwin

spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.