Astonishing prose brings to life a forgotten woman and a lost world in a strange and bittersweet Southern pastoral. Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson has been expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America. Now, drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson 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: sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, Miss Jane Chisolm and her world are anything but barren. The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson's fiction. In Miss Jane, the author brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty. Jane Chisolm's irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place on her. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.
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"Watson's novel is based on the life of his great-aunt, who was born with a rare genital defect at a time when medicine had no treatment or cure. Rural Mississippi in the early twentieth century was not equipped to understand and deal with Jane's condition, and she seemed condemned to an ostracized life. Tiffany Morgan narrates the story with assurance and compassion while avoiding sentimentality. Her delivery, detached and unemotional, nevertheless allows us to feel Jane's pain, isolation, and determination to live as full a life as possible. Morgan brings all the characters to life, conveying compassion for the overwhelmed parents and making the life-affirming relationship between Jane and the wise country doctor especially poignant. A difficult yet ultimately life-affirming story of endurance. N.E.M. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine"
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