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I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down: Collected Stories Paperback – October 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this collection of 13 short stories, Southern writer Gay (Provinces of Night; The Long Home) confirms his place in the Southern fiction pantheon. Set in rural Tennessee, the stories pulsate with the inevitability of emotional pain, sometimes charged with fear, other times with limitless rage. Gay's characters are perpetually frustrated with the world's awkwardness and obstinacy, lashing out in bizarre ways. After shooting his wife's yapping dog and then facing divorce proceedings, the protagonist of "Sugarbaby" flees responsibility and commits suicide rather than face the music. About to leave town with a young woman who exudes "sullen eroticism," the downwardly mobile television salesman whose desperation animates "The Man Who Knew Dylan" deserts her at a bus stop, smelling too much trouble to handle. In the more ironic stories, natural forces stifle rebellion. The title tale peaks when an old man pushed out of his home by his son tries unsuccessfully to burn out the house's new occupants, nearly killing himself. Although the stories maintain an alluringly simple, spare affect, they are complex in their psychological underpinnings and their poetically described settings range from deep woods to shady towns to the half-junkyard, half-wilderness hell of the area known as "the Harrikin," to which several of Gay's characters flee when they reach the end of their tether. The very names establish authenticity: Finis Beasley, Billy Crosswaithe, Bonedaddy, Quincy Nell. Despite occasional rambling sentences revealing the influence of Cormac McCarthy or the odd false-ringing line of twangy dialogue, this collection is a fine showcase for Gay's imaginative talent.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Gay (Provinces of Night; The Long Home) offers a collection of stories whose characters arrive at a crossroads and usually choose the wrong path, be it violence, arson, or suicide. In the title story, an elderly man escapes his retirement home and uses extreme measures to rid his house of the family who is renting it. "The Paperhanger" involves a Pakistani doctor's wife, her difficulties with the titular paperhanger, and a missing child. In "Closure" and "Roadkill on the Life's Highway," a quest for a hidden stash of money gives the protagonist the means to come to terms with his estranged wife. Gay often fails to connect characters with the reader, so it's hard to understand why they make their violent, irrational decisions. But in the stronger stories the truth of the characters comes through. For larger public libraries and collections of Southern fiction. Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743242920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743242929
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Earle Bowden on October 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
William Gay's stories woven from the fabric of rural Tennessee depict flawed Southerners trapped by wrong decisions, yet his writing embraces the reader with a visual landscape blending the natural terrain with tormented souls. I discovered his fiction first in the Oxford American, then read with enthusiasm his novels The Long Home and Provinces of Night, finding from them an honest storyteller who appreciates the older, traditonal elements of good fiction--placing the reader in the bosum of nature and delving into the soul of unique characterization. You find yourself wanting more, trapped by his engaging style, straight-forward dialogue and prose about country-bled commonfolk as clear to the ear and the eye as a Tennessee morning and as absorbing as the frozen blue ridges. He has a way of mystery that feeds the imagination and you feel the torment in the underbrush of stories that ring in your head long after finishing the last paragraph.--Jesse Earle Bowden, author of Look and Tremble: A novel of West Florida and Always the Rivers Flow.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd give eleven of these thirteen short stories an A+, the remaining two, a B+. This is a good a collection of short stories as you'll find. It's no wonder that the critics have nothing but praise for Mr. Gay. Many of the characters are similar. Alhough they are told in the third-person, the stories belong to the menfolks. They are tough, quiet, often angry and capable of violence at the slightest provocation. (In "Crossroads Blues," the character Borum, in describing how he shot his wife and his brother when he found them in bed together says, "You need to know what a man's capable of.") Sometimes they are the victims of their own inaction until it is too late to extricate themselves from the dilemmas they find themselves, and they do something horrific. They often have difficulties with women, ever seeking the elusive female in their lives. In some stories there is conflict between children and older parents. There are murders, accidental killings, suicides, accidental deaths-- and divorces, infidelities, teenage pregnancies and abortions, cancer and Alzheimer's. These characters inhabit, at least some of them, a place called Ackerman Field, somewhere near Nashville, Tenneseee where there is still a "high sheriff." They listen to George Jones, the Carter Family and Jimmie Rogers. But these characters certainly are not freaks and are ultimately very sympathetic. I have known some of these men; they are strong as oak trees.
According to biographical information on Mr. Gay, he is largely self-taught and is a voracious reader. A seventh grade teacher gave him a copy of Thomas Wolfe's LOOK HOMEWARD ANGEL; and the rest is, as they say, history. Like Wolfe, sometimes Mr. Gay's prose gets a little too ornate; for the most part, however, he's a joy to read. Mr.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Just last year, through a recommendation from author Marlin Barton (also a fine writer), I discovered the amazing work of William Gay. I read his two novels, THE LONG HOME and PROVINCES OF NIGHT, and I stood in awe of his creative abilities, the seemingly effortless depth of his descriptive passages, and the glow of truth that shone from within his characters. I purposefully waited a bit to read his short story collection, just to give myself a little space to `step back' and absorb the work contained here on its own merit, without considering the novels. I was not disappointed - the stories in this volume are every bit as finely crafted as his longer works, every bit as rewarding.
Gay presents an amazing panoply of characters and situations here for the reader - all within the `confines' of his realm, rural Tennessee. Several of the stories are populated by characters that also appeared in the novels - but the works here stand on their own. The area of the country with which Gay concerns himself is a rich one - he knows it well, obviously. No one could write like he does by simply inventing every single detail. He is a master at his craft - I suppose becoming a writer well into his adult life allowed the `juices' to steep and age and mellow. Whatever the process, the results are astonishingly rich - as with his novels, I found myself re-reading passages here and there, marveling at the craftsmanship they contained, at the natural flow of the words. They seemed to roll gently and powerfully into my mind as I read, carrying me along with them.
There is both humor and pathos contained in these stories - along with every shade of emotion and experience that lies in between the two.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Guy Mason on December 14, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book, as it stands, is fine I suppose. But it's difficult to determine this with all of the typos and formatting errors that exist in the kindle edition. Words were spelled wrong, there was poor grammar, and formatting issues that separate text for clarity that exist in the printed book are all gone and corrupted in the kindle version. There doesn't seem to be any other way to address this on amazon, so here's my review.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In this collection, smart old men outfox their educated sons, wives, lawyers and the law. The dialogue is hilarious and action is often comic--William Gay is a witty writer in the way of southerners who are much smarter than they let on. But he can't hide his brilliance--his prose is much too good. Savor these stories about the raw truth of human emotion, of characters who have the courage to act on their passions, despite the consequences. His characters erupt in violence but there is always a reason for it, perhaps incomprehensible to readers who have not dealt with the extinction of their way of life. Several characters are not sane, others have bouts of Alzheimers, and others confront marital infidelities. In each case a force larger and more deadly than the character pushes him or her into a horrific decision. Gay is masterful in dipping in and out of these "insanities," which gives some of the stories an eerie surreal quality. No other writer has written so passionately about the Tennessee landscape--through Gay's eyes, it's seductive, ruined, ebullient, and haunting. The final story is bittersweet and beautiful, and gives hope that perhaps William Gay does believe in love, if only for a short time before it, too, is snatched away.
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