The Heaven of Mercury (Paperback)
Finus Bates (reporter, radio host & obit writer) falls in love with Birdie Wells in 1917 when he sees her cartwheel naked in the woods outside Mercury, Mississippi. And he never stops loving her, over the next eighty years. Move over William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, this is southern story-telling at its best. Brad Watson has written a wonderful novel (sentences you will want to read aloud) about lifelong friendship, aging and remembrance, racism, unrequited love, and a mysterious death (murder?). Peopled with unforgettable characters like Vish (an old-time medicine woman), odd undertaker Parnell Grimes, and Eubie Scarborough (“the man who knew everything because he knew nothing”). A 2002 National Book Award nominee. I didn’t want this book to end.
~ John— From John
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.