Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson's work has been as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America. Inspired by the true story of his own great-aunt, he explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central "uses" for a woman in that time and place - namely, sex and marriage. From the country doctor who adopts Jane to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the sensual and erotic world of nature around her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, the world of Miss Jane Chisolm is anything but barren. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.
The acclaimed author of Last Days of the Dog-Men and The Heaven of Mercury brings to life a forgotten woman and a lost world in a strange and bittersweet pastoral; a life of quiet nobility and dignity lived against the background of the American century. For readers of Lori Lansens' The Girls, Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life.
Exquisitely written ... life in all of its unsentimental and symphonic complexity ... Miss Jane is an artistic triumph, a novel that will linger inside you as long as your own memories do. Brad Watson's gifts are immense. -- Andre Dubus III Miss Jane is both winning and big-hearted in its embrace of and appreciation for what seems to be a disabling difference. One of its great pleasures is its young protagonist's flowering from loneliness to a new understanding of her place within creation. -- Jim Shepard Calmly, quietly, with deceptive simplicity, Brad Watson's moving tale brings to life a most unusual woman, finding a most unusual grace. -- Andrea Barrett
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 shortlisted for the National Book Award, and his second story collection,Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives, was shortlisted for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. 'Watson's talent is singular, truly awesome; he reminds me of Raymond Carver, Flannery O'Connor, Chris Offutt in his bravery, his unflinching willingness to look at what might set others running.' A.M. Homes 'Superb ... Watson ... has a great heart, and this great heart has made him a great writer.' Independent