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Then Came the Evening: A Novel Paperback – December 21, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (December 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608194698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608194698
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,363,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hart's accomplished debut follows Vietnam vet Bandy Dorner, who wakes up from a drunken bender to discover the cabin he shared with his pregnant wife, Iona, has burned to the ground and she is believed to have died in the fire. After Bandy gets in a scuffle with two policemen that ends with one cop dead and Bandy shot through the shoulder, he learns that Iona has, in fact, left with her lover. Fast forward to 1990, when Bandy's 18-year-old son, Tracy, visits his incarcerated father for the first time and soon moves into Bandy's dead parents' home, intent on fixing it up. After Iona joins Tracy, and Bandy gets released from prison, a brilliant depiction of family follows, though there's a great deal of turbulence before things even hint at coming together. The rugged Idaho backdrop adds sometimes stark, sometimes beautiful counterpoints to the stripped-to-the-bone narrative. Most impressive is Hart's ability to conjure rich and conflicted characters in an uncommon situation; his handling of the material is sublime. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“All the elements are in place for an inspirational, heartland-America redemption story, but Hart taps into his characters’ fears with gritty lyricism and noirish repartee that subvert any feel-good temptations.”—New York Times Book Review

“Most impressive is Hart’s ability to conjure rich and conflicted characters in an uncommon situation; his handling of the material is sublime.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The unforgiving rural landscape of Idaho is the perfect backdrop for first-time novelist Hart's poignant story of three misfits. Hart refuses to tie up everything neatly, and that's what makes this novel so appealing. Highly recommended to readers of good literary fiction.”—Library Journal

“Like the characters in this quietly exceptional début novel, the author is an Idaho native, and an astute observer of the transitional Western landscape.”—New Yorker

“This novel's finely detailed episodes of physical and emotional violence bring to mind the works of Larry Brown, while its lyrical descriptions speak of landscape and rural community life like the books of Robert Morgan. Hart explores, with brutal honesty and a delicate respect for the strength of the individual spirit, the human needs for love, for continuity after death, and for redemption. His depiction of the effects of poverty, violence, and drugs on the human spirit is acute and poignant.”—Booklist

“Hart’s evocative debut traces the long descent of a tragic Western figure straight out of a Sam Shepard play. Desiccated descriptions of a long-fallow landscape and the author’s ability to conjure up the ghosts of a low man’s past further enrich this heartbreaking, convincing drama.”—Kirkus Reviews

“It’s the (broken) family dynamics that eat up the last half of the book (and, presumably, Bandy and Iona’s life) that Hart does the most justice, somehow both sensitively and unrepentantly laying them bare.”—Time Out Chicago

"Then Came the Evening is one of those novels whose story quietly takes hold of the reader on Page One and never lets go. Using both the stark and dangerous life of prison and Idaho's demanding yet beautiful landscape as backdrop, the author builds a first-rate if complex story around regrets, love and hope.”—Denver Post

“The landscape… is the book’s best-drawn character: vibrant, described credibly and without melodrama.  Hart deftly handles two perilously popular archetypes: ashes-to-ashes and like-father-like-son. These themes build gently to an ending that is well-structured and landscape-centered, bringing full-circle the leitmotif of fire and snow.”—Brooklyn Rail

“Compelling, beginning to end. The thoughtful, spare prose punctuated with quiet yet effective sensory detail -- "The cold and the silence were woven together and stretched so tightly that there were creaking sounds in the air, nautical sounds of binding rope" -- creates a moving poignancy.  Hart, who's been compared to Cormac McCarthy, has a keen sense of that small, dark margin between the rock and the hard place, and that's where he puts his characters to sort out their lives.”Oregonian

“Hart constructs a taut drama around the attempt of these three wounded characters to build something out of the wreckage of their lives.  Hart could hardly have chosen a more unsympathetic trio, characters perpetually down on their luck in part because of misfortunes that they can’t control, but mostly because of ill-considered choices that they make.  And yet Hart earns the reader’s attention to them, if not always sympathy for them, in large part through the beauty and simplicity of his rhythmic prose, his natural dialogue, and his elegant evocations of the landscape and portrayals of how the characters’ shifting identities fit into the evolving town. It takes a rare writer to be able to convince a reader to follow a group of bad-news characters to such bleak places, but Brian Hart’s prose makes the story enjoyable, even when the events it describes are not.  In Then Came The Evening, Hart has achieved a consistency of tone, a concision of description, and an intensity of focus that make for a satisfying drama.”—New West

“Say one thing for first-time novelist Brian Hart: He sets himself a challenge right out of the box.  The challenge is Vietnam veteran Bandy Dorner, one tormented character in a novel filled with damaged souls trying to live with loss, guilt and bone-deep sorrow. We know that Bandy is doomed from the moment he sets foot on the page, and we know that whatever he suffered in the war, nothing justifies the murderous rage that slaps him in prison as the novel opens.  But Hart, fulfilling the promise he showed in 2005 when he won the Keene Prize, the largest student-writing prize in the world, still manages to make us care about Bandy and the others. We hope against hope that they can redeem something from their shattered lives…Hart deftly probes the dynamics of family, asking whether blood ties can overcome disastrous choices, but the novelist resists any easy spiritual rebirth for his characters.”—Dallas Morning News

“Tragic and gorgeous… gritty and poignant…In Hart, there is an echo of Cormac McCarthy's resolute yet restrained capacity for tragedy and violence. Yet there's something here that is all Hart, something we should all look forward to seeing again.”—Missoula Independent

“The story resonates with power and potential.  Idaho can be a stark state, battered by the elements that mark northern climes. In Then Came The Evening, Brian Hart turns this circumstance of geography into a fresh tale of family breakdown and self-examination.”—Petoskey News

“Brian Hart’s Then Came the Evening shows us the hidden America, a world of remote holdings, long memories, fierce yearnings and violent strivings. He dramatizes this world with an immense care and tenderness. There is a deep feeling in the book for the gnarled landscape itself, its stark beauty, but even greater emotion surrounds the characters that inhabit it. Their efforts to live together and love each other are depicted with a grace and understanding which is rare and memorable.”—Colm Tóibín

“Brian Hart has written a remarkable first novel—violent and tender, harsh yet beautiful. Sentence for sentence, no other young writer I know can match him. If Cormac McCarthy had been a carpenter in rural Idaho for nine years, this is the book he would have written. Then Came the Evening will break your heart.”—James Magnuson, Director of the Michener Center for Writers and author of Windfall and The Hounds of Winter

Then Came the Evening is an important book, a novel of raging velocity and blazing empathy, a mature achievement. Brian Hart knows everything about his rural western setting, everything about his short-on-luck characters, and everything about making a reader turn the pages. This is a first novel written with a master's skill.”—Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo and Challenger Park

"Brian Hart’s considerable genius is that he sees what the rest of us are unwilling to see and says what we are unable to say. Then Came the Evening is both harrowing and haunting, hypnotic and exhilarating. Hart can flat-out tell a story. He’s savvy, insightful, and fearless … What talent, what nerve, what an achingly beautiful and astonishing first novel."—John Dufresne, author of Requiem, Mass: A Novel

“Brian Hart’s Then Came the Evening is composed of equal parts science—a scrupulous exactitude for place and the emotions it evokes—and art—the astonishing deftness of its telling. Palpable always, and ultimately poignant, is its reverence for the physical world and its acknowledgment of the violence we do to it, to each other and to ourselves, and its wise and unflinching rendering of that mysterious gulf between who we are and who we wish to be. Here is a novel that will stick with you like a song, and needle you awake in the middle of the night.”—Michael Parker, author of If You Want Me to Stay

“Then Came the Evening is an edgy and affecting debut from a writer already bursting with promise and achievement. Brian Hart’s narrative voice is as tender as it is unflinching—and his novel of love squandered and oh-so-nearly retrieved is a triumph.”—Jim Crace, author of Quarantine, Being Dead, and many more novels

“Hart’s clipped prose mirrors the stark Western landscape…A solid, original work that defies convention.”  —San Francisco Book Review

Customer Reviews

I took a while to finish because it is not a story that brings enjoyment - you really don't want to know how it ends.
Larry Schroer
Unfortunately, he concentrates too much on the writing and not enough on the characters who, in a thin plot book like this, should be the focus.
Rick Mitchell
In real life, I have witnessed stories like this from the outside, but have never known what it would be like to live it out.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia on December 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bandy, a young, hot headed Vietnam vet wages his personal war with himself, his loved ones and anyone else who happens by, some of them even come out of it alive though few are unscathed. Bandy's girlfriend finds out she's pregnant and knows she has to escape Bandy's almost nightly drinking, fighting and womanizing so she leaves with a quiet man who asks few questions. Bandy's actions on the fateful day she leaves land him in jail for a few decades. It's there he finds he has a son when the 18 year old stops by his prison. All these characters are seeking meaning and peace but none of them seem to accomplish much of either though none let go of their dreams of love and family and in a disjointed way they get as close to those dreams as they can. They keep running into their pasts while searching for a livable present. Hart's writing is lovely, atmospheric, evocative. He never goes for the easy answer while looking to get as close to truth as he can.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry D. Young on February 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I orderd Brian Hart's THEN CAME THE EVENING based on a review I read in the newpaper. I didn't anticipate the fine tuned, masterfully crafted novel that I read. I read Hart's story in one 6-7 hours setting. The book is one frigging tage turner. I couldn't put it down until I finished it;.

Hart's characters live out their violence and love on the pages. The settings are real places that I had visited in real time. For example, three or four years ago, I drove down the long incline is the eastern end of the Lolo trail. And I had driven by the spot where Bandy and Victor buried the murdered man, then flung the shovels into the vast openess above the tree tops.

The charactes were not beauatiful people. They were not people I would like to be around. But as I read page after page, I choked up with their sorrow and death and uncompleted love. Long may Hart write. Long may I expereince Hart's tense, minimal stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jamie E. on September 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Sadly, this was not a story for me. The writing style is good, but I am not a huge fan of the language choices and all the sexual references and the story itself failed to draw me in. I would like to state up front that I did not finish this book. So my opinions are only based on the first third of the book, and skim-reading the rest.

'Then Came the Evening' has three main Characters: Bandy the father who is in jail, Iona his wife who left him for another man, and Tracy their teenage son who never knew his father growing up. Tracy gets permission to fix of Badny's family home in the country. He left his mother who seemed to live on sex, drinking, etc. His mother suddenly has a change of heart and follows him home and soon Bandy is released from jail after nearly 20 years. That is the first third of the book, then the rest seems to be re-getting to know one another and coexist.

Please, again, note I only read the first 130 pages then skim-read the rest. For me it was not an interesting read. I never truly saw the characters mature and I could not get into them. Not one... at all. To me, they had little depth. The mother may have had the most but I was against her for all the wrongs she pulled so maybe I am biased but ultimately this fell flat for me. I tried several times to read this book over several months. Never could I get into it. The writing, while clear and concise was very vulgar which I have never cared for and was too technical at times. I under the author, Brian Hart, was a carpenter and welder in real life so while Tracy is fixing the house you really see that come through, yet it seemed to detract from the story-telling.

The book seems very down to earth, and real life for some people.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Archie Mercer VINE VOICE on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In what I can only call a character study; Brian Hart's first novel "Then Came the Evening" is a gritty and intriguing story of people whose lives are in a total shambles. I found the book interesting and, to a certain extent, grew to care about the main characters. I also found the story hard to finish. Every time it appears that at least someone in the book was going to repair their broken-down life something always came along to smack them right down again. Over and over these people make one bad decision after another dragging some of them deeper into despair. It is a well-written book but rather depressing to read.

The three main characters are well developed. Bandy is a Vietnam vet who in a drunken rage kills a police officer and gets sent to prison for 20 years. Iona is his wife who leaves him for another man the same night Bandy goes ballistic. Tracy is their grown up son, one that Bandy never new existed. As the book starts they are three people alone but with circumstances about to draw them together. As they loosely become one unit the anger they have towards each other starts to come out, really preventing them from ever moving forward in their relationships. The one bright spot here is the relationship Tracy begins to develop with first an elderly couple, Wilhelm & Ellen, and later with two young brothers, Olin & Jake. Both plotlines are heartwarming and wonderfully written. At least here we can see a positive resolution.

All in all I would have to say I enjoyed the book, at least enough to look forward to Hart's next effort. Although the story is depressing I really do like how he develops his characters. I had an interesting reading experience; a book that was hard to put down and yet was such a relief when I finished it.
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More About the Author

Brian Hart was born in central Idaho in 1976. He received an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers in 2008. He currently lives in Austin, TX with his wife and daughter. The Bully of Order is his second novel.

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