The Heaven of Mercury: A Novel

The Heaven of Mercury: A Novel

by Brad Watson

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Overview

A National Book Award Finalist

Brad Watson's first novel was eagerly awaited after his breathtaking, award-winning debut collection of short stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men. In The Heaven of Mercury, Watson fulfills that literary promise with a humorous and jaundiced eye. Finus Bates has loved Birdie Wells since the day he saw her do a naked cartwheel in the woods in 1916. Later he won her at poker, lost her, then nearly won her again after the mysterious poisoning of her womanizing husband. Does Vish, the old medicine woman down in the ravine, hold the key to Birdie's elusive character? Or does Parnell, the town undertaker, whose unspeakable desires bring lust for life and death together? Or does the secret lie with some other colorful old-timer in Mercury, Mississippi, not such a small town anymore? With "graceful, patient, insightful and hilarious" prose (USA Today), Brad Watson chronicles Finus's steadfast devotion and Mercury's evolution from a sleepy backwater to a small city.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393341119
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/06/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 274,493
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Brad Watson teaches creative writing at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. His first collection, Last Days of the Dog-Men, won the Sue Kauffman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts&Letters; his first novel, The Heaven of Mercury, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Hometown:

Wyoming

Date of Birth:

July 24, 1955

Place of Birth:

Meridian, Mississippi

Education:

Meridian Junior College; B.A., Mississippi State University, 1978; M.F.A., University of Alabama, 1985

Table of Contents

I.
Finus ex Machina15
Cephalantus Accidentalis22
Self-Reliance26
Giddyup37
Aunt Vish44
Birdicus Urquhartimus51
The Dead Girl59
Finus Connubialis72
Negro Electric88
Discussion with the Dummy96
A Tree Spirit101
Woodpile109
Wisdom126
Blood135
Habeas Corpus148
Black Heart153
Finus Inquisitus161
Obits176
II.
Her Remembrance of Awakened Birds185
Finus Querulous197
Finus Uxorious206
Saviors218
Selena in Ecstasy228
Finus Homerus237
Through the Mockingbird252
Finus Melonius (the Ratio of Love)264
Finus Impithicus276
Finus Magnificus286
III.
A Pair of Boots293
Finus Resurrectus303
A Lost Paradise313
Grievous Oscar322
Finus Infinitus327

Customer Reviews

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Heaven of Mercury 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wanted so much to escape with this book. At times I was very much wrapped up in the story and language. However, at other times I felt the subplots and descriptions were disjointed and pointless. The whole necrophilia thing was odd and added nothing to the novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so overwritten it's pitiful! I love Southern writers, but this was way off the deep edge.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is very well written, but appears to me to have been written in two or three separate sessions. It is almost as if the author began the book, finished, and said, ¿I need some more content in the book¿. The book jumps from character to character, time period to time period, without any real clear direction. He describes the area (Mississippi) well, but does a poor job of having you love or hate it. He also does the same with the characters; do I hate this person or like them?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Watson's terrific short story collection Last Days of the Dog-Men hinted at the incredible narrative powers he displays in his first novel. This powerhouse book has the courage to take us through an entire century (the 20th) with a small town (Mercury, Mississippi) and to chronicle the lives of its most intriguing citizens, living and dead. Yes, the dead play prominent roles in this joyous book. They find themselves resurrected in the act of love-making, speak to the living and serve as tour-guides, and take us on trips back and forth in time. It is the closest thing I know to an American Siddhartha (Hesse), an unimpeachable vision of the eternal continuity of life. Like all great novels, this may try your patience at times. Buy it, test the waters with one toe, two, wade in, start swimming, try not to tire, be patient, Brad Watson will carry you on his back to the far shore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What do you say about a book whose crowning literary moment is the description of an 89-year-old man taking a dump in the bathroom? Then there¿s this lovely image of a horse: ¿A long, slow f--- flabbered from the proud black lips of Dan¿s hole, and the smoke from it too trailed off in the air.¿ Curiously, intellectuals praise The Heaven of Mercury for how it ¿illumines every accurate detail¿ and delivers ¿just-right words.¿ The Heaven of Mercury is part love story, part murder mystery, and part taste of the South. These parts combine into a dull and dreary text. The love story offers no payoff to the reader. The murder mystery fails outright. It is so loosely developed, there are no clues for the reader to pick up. In the end the omniscient narrator just tells some back story to explain the mystery. As for the taste of the South, it is bland at best. The Heaven of Mercury does make a solid showing as a feminist text. In this book the men are weak, the women are strong. Finally, The Heaven of Mercury is yet another example of how the academic mind disdains plot. Here the story is not told in a linear fashion. A character who dies in one chapter may be alive in the next. This book of 333 pages piddles along to a dubious crescendo (the bathroom scene) near page 200, then for the next 133 pages the author fills in gaps left by the first 200 pages.