We all know I’m stalking Alec Baldwin, but what we don’t all know (or didn’t know) is that I’ve been stalking novelist Peter Matthiessen, too, in The Hamptons.† My eyes lit up when I first saw him about six years ago at the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY at one of those pay-$25-and-meet-the-author get togethers.† It was a really crowded event with the authors sitting behind long tables with tidy stacks of books and the public lined up three deep to get autographed copies of books written by the best selling authors.
When someone pointed out Peter Matthiessen among the authors, I was beside myself, desperate to tell him how much I liked his trilogy, how I couldn’t put down Killing Mr. Watson (1990) and how I had been breathless to get hold of Lost Man’s River (1997) and Bone by Bone (1999) to find out what had happened to Watson’s children. But I couldn’t get close to Matthiessen because he was completely swamped by people jockeying for position in front of his table. A lot of chitchat was going on, but no one was mentioning his fabulous trilogy. I began to elbow people out of the way until I was standing directly in front of him. When I got my opportunity I smiled and said, “I see a freshly painted, stark white house in the middle of the Florida Everglades.” Matthiessen stood up (he’s very tall), smiled charmingly and said, “Killing Mr. Watson.”
His original manuscript of 1500 pages was divided into the three volumes that have now been recombined and condensed into Shadow Country.† Is Shadow Country a better read than the original separate volumes? You’ll have to be the judge because I’m happy with the three separate volumes.