Brad Watson, R.I.P.

    We are saddened to hear that Brad Watson died last month from cardiac failure. He was 64. The Mississippi native published two story collections, Last Days of the Dog-Men (1996, Sue Kauffman Award for First Fiction) and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives: Stories (2010, PEN/Faulkner Award finalist), and two novels, The Heaven of Mercury (2002, National Book Award finalist) and Miss Jane (2016).

    The New York Times obituary noted that Watson’s fiction “was often praised for its surreal, bizarre, funny, wild and tender stories about characters who inevitably must transcend difficult moments in their lives.”

    Reviewing Miss Jane in the Times, Amy Grace Lyod praised him for how he “has long explored how the peculiarities of our physical selves can be a benediction and a curse (in turns or all at once), how insistently they express nature’s beauty and brutality. He has written variously about adultery and rape, failed fathers and violently derailed romances, murder and hauntings, dead or dying dogs and talking cats, with and without humor, always without sentimentalizing. He is not a writer shocked or disappointed by carnality or by the fact that it often exists alongside virtue. And he has shown, as few writers have, how wildness, in us and in our environment, can be deliverance.”

    In an appreciation, his friend and fellow writer David Gessner said that apart from his work Watson will be remembered “for his sense of humor, his keen intelligence, his honesty, his empathy, his sheer authenticity, and his smile, which was often sly as if he were up to something. For his friends, the only thing better than reading Brad’s stories was listening to them: tales that gradually wound their way through many twists and turns, and were delivered in a gravely but gentle voice tinged with a Mississippi accent, one that he claimed to have lost when he headed to Hollywood as a young man to become an actor.”

    Brad Watson’s Top Ten List
    1. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
    2. Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy (1985).
    3. Airships by Barry Hannah (1978).
    4. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell (1979).
    5. The Death of A Beekeeper by Lars Gustafsson (1978).
    6. My Ántonia by Willa Cather (1918).
    7. Wolf Whistle by Lewis Nordan (1993).
    8. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930).
    9. With by Donald Harrington (2004).
    10. Taking Care by Joy Williams (1982).


    New List

    David Mitchell

    1. The Duel by Anton Chekhov (1891).
    2.1984by George Orwell (1948).
    3.Heart of Darknessby Joseph Conrad (1899).
    4.Sense and Sensibilityby Jane Austen (1811).
    5.The Master and Margaritaby Mikhail Bulgakov (1966).
    6.As I Lay Dyingby William Faulkner (1930).
    7.Tom Jonesby Henry Fielding (1749).
    8.Labyrinthsby Jorge Luis Borges (1964).
    9.W, or The Memory of Childhoodby Georges Perec (1975).
    10.The Makioka Sistersby Junichiro Tanizaki (1943–48).
    Wild Card:Lolly Willowesby Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926).


    Classic List

    Top Ten African-American Works

    1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952). 
    2. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987). 
    3. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977). 
    4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937). 
    5. Native Son by Richard Wright (1945). 
    6. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959). 
    7. Another Country by James Baldwin (1962). 
    8. Cane by Jean Toomer (1923). 
    9. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid (1990). 
    10. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown (1965). 


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