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The Evening Hour: A Novel Paperback – January 17, 2012
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“A plainspoken novel, but one with intensely lyrical moments, about the devastation of the West Virginia landscape--and the devastation to the local communities--owing to mountaintop removal... Sickels has great insight into the emotional life of West Virginians, and he refreshingly presents them as fully realized characters.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Sickels's debut revolves around a cast of characters whose world is pulled out from under them... The novel is grounded in rich storytelling.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Cole's point of view is one not often encountered in contemporary fiction. First-time novelist Sickels paints [his] experience with an unflinching hand.” ―Library Journal
“In this stark, beautiful debut, Sickels writes with gentle grace and cutting honesty about characters as wounded as the condemned land on which they live. The Evening Hour is a raw, aching book that gleams with moments of unflinching truth and unexpected tenderness, casting light into dark corners, revealing both damage and dignity. It's a stunning novel.” ―Aryn Kyle, author of The God of Animals and Boys and Girls Like You and Me
“The troubled heart of the country, and the hearts of the deeply compelling people who populate it, beat strongly and unforgettably in The Evening Hour. Carter Sickels is a tremendous novelist with a tremendous story to tell in these pages, and he tells it with beauty and power.” ―Stacey D'Erasmo, author of The Sky Below
“The Evening Hour could be a hymn sung out in a country church; when I finished it, I wanted to close my eyes, listen to its echoes, feel the power of its song. For that is what this beautiful book is: a sweet-souled, hard-eyed prayer for a beleaguered people and the beloved landscape they call home. With striking authenticity and admirable restraint, Carter Sickels brings both forcefully to life in his deeply moving, spiritually uplifting debut.” ―Josh Weil, author of The New Valley
“The Evening Hour is engrossing. It elicits strong, complicated emotions from the first page. I felt inhabited by the characters, and as the page numbers increased, I was as scared for it to end as I was to see what would happen.” ―Nick Reding, author of Methland
“A refreshing cry from the populace, Carter Sickels's The Evening Hour captures the spirit of America's New Feudalism. The setting is West Virginia and Heritage Coal has a monopoly: on the land, on the lives of the people who work for them, and on the families who live downhill from the toxic sludge pond. Life is hell and survival is all there is. Some have the Bible, some have booze and pills and sex, and some still dare to have a dream.” ―Tom Spanbauer, author of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon
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Top Customer Reviews
The strength of The Evening Hour lies in the careful construction of its central character. Cole is a man of unvoiced thoughts, a man who rarely uses more than three words and a grunt to answer a question. He nonetheless has complex feelings: about growing up without a mother; about the serpent-handling, scripture-spouting grandfather who raised him; about his former best friend, Terry Rose, who left the mountain before returning to take a job at Wal-Mart; about the women with whom he has on-and-off relationships; about the government and the mining company and the environmentalists he can't bring himself to trust. He wants to be a nurse and likely has the aptitude and intelligence to attend college, but can't muster the belief in himself that he would need to change his life. His grandfather told him many times that he needed to be saved, that he should surrender himself to the Holy Ghost, but salvation eludes him. He understands the appeal of religion but doesn't have much use for it. He's frustrated and isolated, confused and tired. He's nearly thirty but he's still growing up ...Read more ›
This is an impressive first novel from the transgender, gay-male-identified author, dealing with an important environmental issue. The story unfolds in the Cole's actions and thoughts, as well as in the words of a group of highly diverse straight and gay characters surrounding him, making for a suspenseful and interesting read. Four stars out of five.
- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
While Cole doesn't mind spending time with the residents, his job has a lucrative side benefit, in that he is able to steal money and other valuables from them, and they're often too unaware to realize it. He also resells the prescription medications that some of his grandmother's friends and other people in the community sell him. He knows what he is doing is wrong, but he feels powerless to stop what he has put into motion.
His grandfather's fire-and-brimstone preaching scarred him in many ways, and coupled with a childhood stutter, Cole has never been able to truly feel good about himself. As a teenager he had a very close relationship with his best friend, Terry Rose, who moved away and got married. But Terry's return to Dove County unsettles Cole in a number of ways, and it affects the relationships he pursues with two different women, each of whom has their own issues to deal with.
Dove County is under siege from the local mining corporation, which has been buying up and destroying all of the available land it can, convincing residents to sell their property and move away. Yet Cole has convinced his grandmother not to sell her land, and he refuses to do so either, despite the opportunities he could pursue with the money.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can't say enough about this novel. It is truly unique in point of view from the protagonist, and is full of suspense and great storytelling. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Bug
This book tells the story of a man named Cole who works as an aid in a nursing home in a rural town in the heart of coal mining country in West Virginia. Read morePublished 18 months ago by P. M.
Great story, well done characters, fast read... redemption is possible for anyone ! Recommended reading for some one wanting a feel for the rural Appalachian mountains and their... Read morePublished 22 months ago by claudia
This book is stuck writing about a time and people that not many of us can relate to. And the author made little effort to give us a rationale to justify their behavior or to... Read morePublished on July 10, 2013 by Norm Friesen
Covers a history topic I am unfamiliar with. Was interesting to learn about coal mining in a small town. The characters are great.Published on July 8, 2013 by Abby B.
There was very thoughtful and realistic character development. The relationship among the characters was woven together in a subtle and creative manner. Read morePublished on June 17, 2013 by Richard J. Bonacci
The little men, the men actually risking their lives, those men breathing the coal dust are the men one has to admire. Read morePublished on March 30, 2013 by Frederick O. Cook
This is a book for our current times. In the USA and Australia in particular there are small communities suffering from the mining companies. Read morePublished on February 19, 2013 by Katieq
I got this book from Amazon. The book was awesome - I spent every spare minute in a chair reading it - I was sorry to see the book end!Published on January 24, 2013 by snowshoe36