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Matthiessen, Peter

watson tells volume story

(US, 1927– )

Born in New York City and educated at Yale University and the Sorbonne, Matthiessen worked for three years as a commercial fisherman and as a captain of a charter fishing boat. His many expeditions to the wilderness areas of the world have provided the colour for his nine novels, including At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965), nominated for the National Book Award. His fifth novel, Far Tortuga (1974), tells the tale, largely in dialogue, of the doomed voyage of a group of sailors who leave the Cayman Islands to hunt turtles in the Caribbean. In the 1990s, he wrote the massive Watson Trilogy: Killing Mr Watson (1990), Lost Man's River (1997), and Bone By Bone (1999). Using a number of different narrators, the story is of the mysterious execution of E. J. Watson at the hands of vigilantes in 1910 in the American South. In the second volume, Watson's son searches for the truth as to whether his father was a cold-blooded murderer, and in the third volume, Watson tells his own story. The books deal with racism, greed and man's capacity for extreme violence.

Paul Theroux, John Steinbeck, Russell Banks  AE

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