Saturday, January 5, 2013

Book Beginnings: Shadow Country

I was too drained to do any book blogging last night (classes start Monday), but I'm going to take a break from my syllabus tweaking to post my book beginning on a Saturday!  

One of the things I love about GoodReads is the number of groups a reader can join.  It is easy to find community based on what you love to read.  I joined On the Southern Literary Trail last year in an attempt to read more southern lit, since I moved to the south in 2006.  I haven't always been able to join in on the book selections, but the discussion is always very in-depth, and people are always bringing in additional research.  I learn so much more than I would on my own!

Most of the time, there are two books a month - one that falls pre-1980, and one that falls 1980 or after, in an attempt to read both "classics" and contemporary literature from the south.  This month, there was a tie in the contemporary category.  I only have time to read one of these books, but this one was already on my shelf at home to read for my Around the USA in 52 Books challenge.  It was $1 at a used bookstore, and I had never heard of the author, so I decided to take a chance.

The book is Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen.  It is a mighty tome, originally published in three volumes.  The author always wanted it to be one cohesive novel, so he rewrote it, removed 1500 pages, and republished it.  Shadow Country ended up winning the National Book Award for fiction in 2008.

Basic description: 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.

I've read about 30 pages so far, and that isn't much of a book that is 900 pages.  The chapters are really short, introducing characters, but as you'll see from the first few lines, the atmosphere is dark and violent.  I'm looking forward to learning more about this historical figure, and experiencing a part of Florida that I haven't yet visited.  

Prologue: October 24, 1910
"Sea birds are aloft again, a tattered few. The white terns look dirtied in the somber light and they fly stiffly, feeling out an element they no longer trust. Unable to locate the storm-lost minnows, they wander the thick waters with sad muted cries, hunting seamarks that might return them to the order of the world."

1 comment:

  1. I'll be interested to see if you like this one. I have it on my list for the Around the US.


Thanks for visiting the Reading Envy blog and podcast. Word verification has become necessary because of spam.