LOST MAN'S RIVER by Peter Matthiessen


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 A large, vivid, ambitious novel from one of the country's most accomplished American writers, offering a powerful portrait of life among the hunters, renegades, and wanderers infesting the Florida Everglades in the century's early decades. Matthiessen's (African Silences, 1991, etc.) latest is in many ways a sequel to his 1990 novel, Killing Mister Watson. In that work, the violent, vigorous figure of Edgar Watson dominated the action. A settler in the still wild Everglades in the early years of the century, Edgar, with his reputation as a killer, was both respected and feared by his neighbors. Then, in 1910, died during a confrontation with a posse. But who actually fired the fatal shot? Had Edgar fired first? And was he in fact a murderer? His son Lucius, an academic, has tried repeatedly to escape from his father's lengthy shadow. Once again, in the 1950s, Lucius is drawn reluctantly back into the struggle to puzzle out what his father was when a cache of documents about him comes to light. In the company of some of his father's cronies and a few of his bitter enemies, all of them old men nursing grudges and powerful recollections of frontier days in the Everglades, Lucius travels ever deeper into the wilderness. Along the way he hears some extraordinary tales about the lives of the local farmers, hunters, smugglers, and moonshiners, assembles a moving portrait of the destruction of the fragile ecosystem of the Everglades, and finally discovers the painful, complex truth about his father's life and death. Lucius's long, complex relationship with his father's memory is brilliantly handled, as is the portrait of the fate of the Everglades, its wildlife, and its tough, idiosyncratic inhabitants. Interweaving a lament for the lost wilderness, a shrewd, persuasive study of character, and a powerful meditation on the sources of American violence, Matthiessen has produced one of the best novels of recent years. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-40377-9
Page count: 704pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1997


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