Review and Free Giveaway: Shadow Country

Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen

Release date: 2008 / 892 pages

Synopsis (from back cover): Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man’s River, and Bone by Bone — Peter Matthiessen’s great American epic about Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E.J. Watson on the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century — were originally conceived as one vast, mysterious novel. Now, in this bold new rendering, Matthiessen has marvelously distilled a monumental work while deepening the insights and motivations of his characters with brilliant rewriting throughout.

First line: “Seabirds are aloft again, a tattered few.”

Review: I’m so disappointed to report that this National Book Award winner fell victim to the 350 page rule…  And no, that was not a typo — I stopped reading it on page 350!

This really was a failure on my part and not on the part of Matthiessen.  The trilogy is very well-written, especially if you enjoy Faulkner (which I do).  The characters are finely wrought, fascinating individuals, and the plot moves well.  I must admit, I’ve never been so impressed by a novel that I eventually put aside! 

So, why did I stop reading it?  Well, the novel is 892 pages in length (it is a trilogy) and explores the complex, shameful history of racism in our country (as well as the fascinating layers that every man and every family contain).  I started reading it while in Ethiopia last month, and the juxtaposition of my happy, smiling, sunshiney 9 month old niece with the dark, n-word laden past of our country soon became burdensome, especially at such a time of hope and optimism in our country with regard to race. 

I did perservere throughout the week and even into our 21 hour flight home, but ultimately had to put it aside.  So, I actually whole-heartedly recommend this work, despite the fact that I stopped reading it and have not had the will to continue.

Any takers?  🙂  If so, simply leave me a comment — I will choose a winner shortly…  And I would love to hear if it ultimately fulfills its promise!

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14 Responses to Review and Free Giveaway: Shadow Country

  1. Teresa says:

    Hi Kristen
    I feel a bit embarrased to say that I want this one, too. I love social themes, and if the book is well writen and interesting- the longer, the better.

  2. Carey Stolber says:

    This sounds like an excellent challenge.

  3. I loved his The Snow Leopard. From your descriptions, I would like to read this too. Please do count me in.


  4. Kristen says:

    Hi Teresa, Carey, and Gautami! You three are in the running… 🙂

  5. Sheri says:

    Please enter me!

    A Novel Menagerie

  6. Suzan says:

    Please, add my name too.

  7. lisa W says:

    Add me, too, please!

  8. Kristen says:

    Lisa, Suzan, and Sheri — You’re in the running, too! 🙂

  9. Sharon Walling says:

    Please enter me also. Sounds like a really good book.

  10. Carlene says:

    Please include me in your giveaway.

  11. Kristen says:

    And the winner is… Carlene! Congrats! 🙂

  12. Marjorie says:

    I love a good mystery and would put this book
    away for winter, just to R&R in our snowy months. Thank for a great giveaway.

  13. Sandra says:

    I would love a chance to read this book. The bigger a book is the better the reading experience for me. And with all that history, it must have needed a longer book to tell the story. Thank you for considering me for the draw.

  14. Sandra says:

    Didn’t read the last couple of posts-sorry. Congratulations Carlene.

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