May 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Bone by Bone

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Peter Matthiessen
genre
Fiction
We gave it an A-

In post-Civil War South Carolina, young Edgar Watson suffers regular beatings from his Confederate father and soon slices off an alter ego, a murderous secret self he calls Jack. In the first two parts of his trilogy, Killing Mister Watson and Lost Man’s River, Peter Matthiessen imagined the life of homicidal frontiersman E.J. Watson through the eyes of neighbors and kin. The trilogy’s conclusion, Bone by Bone, is narrated by Watson himself, and it’s a tale woven in cycles of violence and exile — to the wilds of Oklahoma and the jungles of Florida. Always, Jack’s rage hovers, portending ”some far despair, ever nearing, coming ever closer.” This dense, mesmerizing novel will leave readers stunned, as if waking from a horrific sunburnt daydream. A-

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