William Gay The Long Home

ISBN 13: 9780571210909

The Long Home

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9780571210909: The Long Home
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In a literary voice that is both original and powerfully unsettling, William Gay tells the story of Nathan Winer, a young and headstrong Tennessee carpenter who lost his father years ago to a human evil that is greater and closer at hand than any the boy can imagine-until he learns of it first-hand. Gay's remarkable debut novel, The Long Home, is also the story of Amber Rose, a beautiful young woman forced to live beneath that evil, who recognizes even as a child that Nathan is her first and last chance at escape. And it is the story of William Tell Oliver, a solitary old man who watches the growing evil from the dark woods and adds to his own weathered guilt by failing to do anything about it. Set in rural Tennessee in the 1940s, The Long Home will bring to mind once again the greatest Southern novelists and will haunt the reader with its sense of solitude, longing, and the deliverance that is always just out of reach.

A 1999 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Finalist, SEBA Book Award in Fiction

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Review:

In Willam Gay's debut novel, The Long Home, the devil comes to Tennessee in the form of one Dallas Hardin, a vile and violent man who brings tragedy in his wake. Set in the backwoods South of the 1940s, Gay's tale is populated with a colorful array of types familiar to readers of William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, and other practitioners of that particular brand of larger-than-life literature that seems to thrive south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Though the types might be familiar, Gay does an impressive job of making them his own, each with his or her distinctive, fully human qualities that transcend the roles they play as bootlegger, town drunk, or even hero.

The story opens when Dallas Hardin ("Old Nick," according to one character--"or whatever he's goin' by now") comes to town and wrests away home, wife, and whiskey still from the seriously ill Thomas Hovington. Only in a Southern novel could such an event be preceded by the inexplicable opening of a brimstone-scented pit near the victim's house without the reader even blinking an eye. Enter young Nathan Winer, hired by Hardin to build a honky-tonk. Winer starts out thinking he can earn his wage while steering clear of his employer's evil ways, but it soon becomes apparent that he can't--especially after he falls in love with Tom Hovington's daughter, now Hardin's stepdaughter, Amber Rose. Having given his heart, Nathan has taken the first inexorable step towards a final, deadly confrontation with the devil.

If Gay's themes are big--nothing less than the battle between good and evil--and his metaphors drawn unabashedly from that old-time religion, his novel is nonetheless firmly grounded in the flesh-and-bone world--sometimes nightmarishly so. There is a lot of blood spilt over the course of this novel, in myriad ways and in graphic detail. Indeed, one quality that The Long Home shares with most of Cormac McCarthy's work is that it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But Gay balances the horror with moments of true beauty, and his novel is undeniably compelling. Enjoy it for its many strengths and for its promise of a bright literary future --Sheila Bright

About the Author:

William Gay lives in Howenwald, Tennessee. His work has appeared in Harper's, The Georgia Review and GQ. His second novel, Provinces of Night, is forthcoming from Doubleday in December 2000.

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William Gay
Published by Faber and Faber (2002)
ISBN 10: 0571210902 ISBN 13: 9780571210909
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