Today’s Books page highlights “The Heaven of Mercury” (Norton, $23.95), an earthy new Southern novel by Brad Watson. Other writers have been especially impressed with this complicated, darkly humorous and sometimes disturbing tale. Larry Brown called it “As mythic and miraculous as Faulkner and Mrquez” and Barry Hannah declared “Each page a deep pleasure.” Reviews in the press have been mixed, however, and squeamish readers should be warned of the book’s strong sexual content (necrophilia, rape, masturbation and more). “The Heaven of Mercury” stirs many emotions.
During a recent telephone interview, Watson spoke about his background, influences and literary aspirations. Though he is now writer-in-residence at the University of West Florida, Watson revealed that his path to the writing life was anything but direct. Born and raised in Meridian, Miss., he “was not a serious student.” What he really wanted to do was act, and as a teen-ager he traveled to California to chase his dream. After some time on the West coast, he returned to his native Mississippi and enrolled in college. He credits an early teacher, Buck Thomas at Meridian Junior College, with turning him into “a serious reader.” Matured by his California experience and guided by Thomas, Watson plowed through the works of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty …Read more