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 Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself to his own violent end at the hands of his neighbours. Following the story…
Why read it?
2 authors picked Shadow Country as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
In the 1990s, I was captivated by Peter Matthiessen’s three “Mr. Watson” novels, which explored the lawless world of Florida’s fin de siècle Ten Thousand Islands region.
Last year, I finally reread them in their final form, fused into the magnum opus Shadow Country. In telling the story of the murder of real-life Florida pioneer and renegade Edgar Watson from many different points of view, Matthiessen creates a richly textured landscape.
Outlaws, escapees, and adventurous settlers work, intermarry, and squabble, making a hardscrabble life among the swamps, the rivers, the mosquitos, and…
Shadow Country is Peter Matthiessen’s tour-de-force, semi-fictional account of life and death in the Ten Thousand Islands region of Florida’s Gulf Coast at the turn of the 20th Century. It is a slightly shorter and reworked version of a trilogy originally published separately – Killing Mr. Watson (1990); Lost Man’s River (1997); and Bone by Bone (1999). Matthiessen’s immediate story is that of Edgar Watson, a planter and outlaw, and his murder by his neighbors, but his broader canvas is the American frontier and the ecological costs of empire. His evocation of a long-lost Florida wilderness and…
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