Books

Book jacket

There Is Happiness: New & Selected Stories (July 2024)


A posthumous collection of beloved and never-before-read stories from a titan of contemporary Southern fiction.

“Here is a generous portion of the work of a swiftly passing lifetime. Bountiful is the deserving page,” Joy Williams writes in her introduction to this astonishing selection of Brad Watson’s published and unpublished stories: “excellent, assured, funny, startling, heartbreaking, wild,“ full of “freakish flair” and “melancholy realism”—stories that give us a “glimpse” of ourselves “so surprising, so varied yet unequivocal, so ruthlessly complete, that it does awaken us in some manner, if not protect or prepare us.” More…

Miss Jane


Drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Brad 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 – namely, 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 Jane 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. More…

Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives


In this, his first collection of stories since his celebrated, award-winning Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson takes us even deeper into the riotous, appalling, and mournful oddity of human beings.

In prose so perfectly pitched as to suggest some celestial harmony, he writes about every kind of domestic discord: unruly or distant children, alienated spouses, domestic abuse, loneliness, death, divorce. In his masterful title novella, a freshly married teenaged couple are visited by an unusual pair of inmates from a nearby insane asylum—and find out exactly how mismatched they really are. More…

The Heaven of Mercury


Shortlisted for the 2002 National Book Award in Fiction: a dark, riotous Southern novel of sex, death, and transformation.

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? More…

Last Days of the Dog-Men


Winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the Academy of Arts and Letters and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. In each of these “weird and wonderful stories” (Boston Globe), Brad Watson writes about people and dogs: dogs as companions, as accomplices, and as unwitting victims of human passions; and people responding to dogs as missing parts of themselves. More…