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10 thoughts on “Killing Mister Watson

  1. Lyn Lyn says:

    A fine example of Southern literature written by a guy from New York Matthiessen's historic fiction falls somewhere between James Agee and Harry Crews a good read I also noted influences or allusions to Flannery O'Connor the obligatory nod to Faulkner and than a passing similarity to Macbeth This was my great grandparent's generation in pioneer southwest Florida in the 1890s rich and vibrant the swamps and mud stick to the pages

  2. Diane Diane says:

    But the truth don't count for much after all these years cause folks hang on to what it suits 'em to believe and won't let go of it Killing Mr Watson p 92Historically Edgar Bloody Watson did exist and he was really killed by a posse in the Islands along the west coast of Florida Matthiessen provides the full story of the the life and times of Watson based on amazing oral history accounts by the people of the Florida Islands Having conducted transcribed and edited a lot of oral histories I was most impressed by the voices of his narrators He not only tells the story of Watson but also provides a lesson in racism and class distinction He had me happily fooled into almost believing every word He also had me wanting to believe Watson over and over again in the face of ridiculous evidenceThis was not an easy book for me to get into but once hooked it was masterful

  3. Charlene Charlene says:

    A very interesting book set in the frontierwilderness area of south Florida around 1900 told from multiple viewpoints Mr Watson was an enigmatic figure farmer family man good neighbor and probable killer This is the first in a trilogy in which the author is teasing out the real story and its meaning? from legend Story is told by revolving cast of neighbors and relatives second book is from the viewpoint of a son and third is told by Mr Watson Not sure if I'm up to the story told again and again but maybe so this one definitely worth reading especially since the Everglades is a place I've visited and hope to visit again Author does a good job of capturing the landscape and history of the area as well as telling a story

  4. Stephen Stephen says:

    Some writers write fiction some non fiction and never the twain shall meet Right? I don’t think so A good writer can write whatever they want Perhaps the best example living today is Peter Matthiessen Matthiessen started his writing career as a novelist a spinner of tales but he is perhaps best known for some of his non fiction works “Wildlife in America” 1959 “Snow Leopard” 1980 “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” 1983 In the 1990s however he returned to the novel and wrote what is known as the Watson trilogy The first published in 1990 is “Killing Mister Watson” It's set in Southern Florida in an area on the Gulf Coast west of the Everglades known as Ten Thousand Islands a lawless region of swamps islands and mangroves where outlaws hid and opportunist poachers and plume hunters patrolled by boat“It’s the dead silence after all the shooting that comes back today though I never stuck around to hear it; I kind of remember it when I am dreaming Them ghosty white trees and dead white ground the sun and silence and the dry stink of guano the suawking and shrieking and flopping of dark wings and varmints hurrying without no sound—coons rats and possums biting and biting and the ants flowing up all them pale trees in the dark snaky ribbons to bite at them raw scrawny things that’s backed up to the ege of the nest gullet pulsing and mouth open wide for the food and water that ain’t never going to come” writes MatthiessenThe storyline is based on local legend the killing of Edgar J Watson by townspeople who decided to take the law into their own hands They were afraid Watson was an ill educated jingoistic entrepreneur; a powerful land owner with a sugar cane plantation who readily boosted after a drink or two of having killed 57 men if it suited his purposes and it often did If a laborer complained of not being paid in several weeks that laborer might conveniently disappear The story is told from 12 perspectives interviews with early settlers in Florida Rich in local color it’s a well written well constructed novel

  5. Jamie Jamie says:

    I think the reason I’m bothering with this at all is because I wanted to use the word turgid Turgid It’s a good word I get to use it far too littleMaking the halfway point on this may have changed my mind but every other time I’ve stuck it out regardless I’ve regretted it Some things are not for me Books like this are one of those things

  6. Michele Michele says:

    This is a remarkable account of life in The Thousand IslandsSW Florida in the early part of the 20th Century The descriptions made my skin crawl in discomfort How they coped with the 'skeeters' mosuitoes I will never knowSo here I am almost 5 years later and this book remains strong in my mind Proof if proof is needed of a great book

  7. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    The first part of this blew me away From the potent almost biblical description of the eponymous deed which opens the book to the incredible range of voices full of history rumor and conspiracy about EJ Watson and about the weird insular world of the Florida everglades circa 1900 the book feels almost like a contemporary as I Lay Dying And like Faulkner Matthiessen is interested in burrowing deep into a specific woebegone locale and pulling its darkest parts out for investigation; there's the miscegenation the casual racism the morbid vaguely incestuous family politics But the real current in this book is the environment and specifically it's degradation and destruction in the age of American expansion Almost every chapter seems to contain a reference to trees uprooted fields tilled up birds shot for museums alligators slaughtered for pelts Yet the book seems to really lose focus in the second half and the giant cast of characters some of whom only pop up to narrate a section or two and then vanish forever becomes unwieldy as are Matthiessen's attempts to balance his abiding interest in the environment with his own personal interest and obsession with EJ Watson By the end the various characters narrations while beautifully rendered feel a tad too journalistic to be really fictional and I wasn't sure if I was reading a novel or some elaborately fictionalized reportage which isn't bad per se but the whole thing becomes kind of monotonous after a few hundred pages of Florida crackers ruminating on doom destruction and blood in or less the same voice Maybe one day I'll get around to reading the next two but this on it's own seemed like than enough

  8. Sarah Wortman Sarah Wortman says:

    Lord I hated this book It's the story of a community's plot to kill a hated neighbor from multiple perspectives in the Florida Everglades in the 1800s Even if I could get beyond the liberal use of the n word which I really can't the whole book just made me want to take lots and lots of showers Ick

  9. Eric Eric says:

    Killing Mr Watson is the first novel in a trilogy that has now been published called Shadow Country While the three components of the trilogy have been modified from their original form when Shadow Country was published I have chosen to enter the three components as separate books because they are uniue in their own ways Killing Mr Watson is constructed of 53 chapters each of which is a first person narrative from one of 14 uniue characters While obviously the author intended the 53 narratives to run in somewhat of a chronological order I chose to read the narrative of each of the 14 characters progressing chronologically through the novel Did I cheat? I just found that approach to be easier in understanding the storyNo illuminating description of Killing Mr Watson was when it is discussed that rather than make the return run with her holds empty she had met a Cuban vessel off the Maruesas to take on a rum cargo on which no duty had been paid Cole testified that his rascally captain had taken on that contraband without his knowledge No one believed this and some wondered at the greed that drove prosperous businessmen to skirt the laws of the democracy they claimed to be so proud of steal from their own government by overcharging for the beef while paying their lawyers to cheat it of its taxesSecondarily but no less importance was the depiction of the social culture of backwoods south eastern Florida the so called ten thousand islands While unimportant to the rest of the world in any way the location and roles dictate how one's life is set Fate my be the best word but it seems that no one especially the former slaves can possibly escape their destiny

  10. Daniel Polansky Daniel Polansky says:

    A polyphonic retelling of the foul deeds of the eponymous Watson a gunhand and would be industrialist basically Absalom Absalom in the Florida Keys Its good its very well written but there’s also shooting and murder and mystery and whatnot I felt that the various viewpoints read too similarly and lacked the disparate stylization necessary for this style of writing and the author’s own admirable moral viewpoint came through too strong Which makes it sound like I didn’t like the book but I did like the book I just felt it didn’t uite manage to fulfill its enormous ambitions

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Killing Mister Watson ✈ [PDF / Epub] ✅ Killing Mister Watson By Peter Matthiessen ✸ – By the author of The Snow Leopard The Tree Where Man Was Born and On the River Styx this novel is based around the circumstances of the death of a man in Florida 1910 who had terrorized his community By the author of The Snow Leopard The Tree Where Man Was Born and On the River Styx this novel is based around the circumstances of the death of a man in Florida who had terrorized his community and who very possibly had a criminal past.