Finus Bates has Loved chatty, elegant Birdie Wells ever since he saw her cartwheel naked through the woods near the backwater town of Mercury, Mississippi, in 1917. He's loved her for some eighty years: through their marriages to other people, through the mysterious early death of Birdie's womanizing husband, Earl, and through all the poisonous accusations against Birdie by Earl's no-good relatives. With "graceful, patient, insightful and hilarious" prose (USA Today), Brad Watson chronicles Finus's steadfast devotion and Mercury's evolution from a sleepy backwater to a small city. With this "tragicomic story of missed opportunities and unjust necessities" (Fred Chappell), "Southern storytelling is alive and well in Watson's capable hands" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). "His work may remind readers of William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, or Flannery O'Connor, but has a power--and a charm--all its own, more pellucid than the first, gentler than the second, and kinder than the third" (Baltimore Sun).