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Rich Seeley

From 1980 to 1994, I was a local columnist for The Outlook, the daily newspaper in Santa Monica.

Tulsa, OK, United States | Member Since 2009

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  • Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend

    • UNABRIDGED (40 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Peter Matthiessen
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    Overall
    (360)
    Performance
    (134)
    Story
    (136)

    Inspired by a near-mythic event on the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the 20th century, Shadow Country re-imagines 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.

    John says: "Engrossing, Rich and Powerful"
    "Too tedious to listen to"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Using my monthly credit for this book was a mistake. Having enjoyed "The Snow Leopard" and "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," I expected "Shadow Country" to be wonderful, especially since it won the National Book Award. But now I would like to know what the judges for the National Book Award were smoking when they read this. I'm even wondering if they read it or just got caught up in Peter Matthiessen's reputation and wanted to honor him in his old age. I am a fairly literary reader but except for the author's fascination with Mr. Watson I don't even see the point of this book. It's a labored and repetitious retelling over 40 hours of what would have been better told in a short story. Heminway might have told the whole Watson legend in five pages. Faulkner might have taken 200 pages. But more than 1,000 pages is beyond taste. Making the Audible version even worse, this narrator's attempt to do various Southern accents is more confusing than helpful. Many narrators are able to create distinctive voices for each character. But this book is mostly told in a high pitched stage whisper that grates on the nerves very quickly. This only makes following a long, long drawn out story told by multiple narrators hard to follow. I checked over at the Amazon Web page for this book and it appears many readers of the print and Kindle editions had the same reaction. I realize other readers appear to have loved this book, but I for one cannot see it. I would suggest reading a few pages of the print edition in either the libary or a bookstore to see if you really want to spend 40 hours with this tome.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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