The year is 1952, and E. F. Bloodworth has returned to his home - a forgotten corner of Tennessee - after twenty years of roaming to find the three sons he abandoned are grown and angry: Warren is a womanizing alcoholic, Boyd is obsessed with hunting down his wife's lover, and Brady puts hexes on his enemies from his mother's porch. Only Fleming, ...
The year is 1952, and E. F. Bloodworth has returned to his home - a forgotten corner of Tennessee - after twenty years of roaming to find the three sons he abandoned are grown and angry: Warren is a womanizing alcoholic, Boyd is obsessed with hunting down his wife's lover, and Brady puts hexes on his enemies from his mother's porch. Only Fleming, the old man's grandson, can see beyond all the hatred and strife and through the love of Raven Lee, a beauty from another town, he finds the courage to reject his family's curse.
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William Gay writes scenes like Impressionists paint on canvass. Little bits of sensory cues dot his every sentence. Each small pattern is a miniature work of art in and of itself. Together, they put you inside cabin kitchens and ramshackle juke joints and gas stations next to wide places in dusty roads among the hard workers and hard drinkers, steel-hearted villains and a parade of clever natives who live among the hills and hollows of a rural world that had not yet been homogenized into the strip-center chain-store sameness that drones through the South and all of America these days.
Wiliam Gay tells a good story. The plot alone is worth the time to read this book. But like all of Gay's work, "Provinces of Night" is so much more than a story.
When I read, I keep a yellow highlighter nearby so I can mark passages that touch me in such ways that I'd like to re-read them when I have time. When I read the work of William Gay, I often wind up with more yellow on the pages than white. He's that good. Hardly a passage goes by without coming onto a line that makes me say to myself, "I should print that off, put it on a frame and hang it on my wall."
See for yourself. And check out "The Long Home" (Gay's first published novel) and "Twilight" (his most recent one). And stay tuned for his new book -- "The Lost Country." It is scheduled for release in late May of 2009, but I'm not sure if it will make that date. I sure hope so.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-11-13 Like one of Wallace Stevens's best-known poems, Gay's (The Long Home) second novel begins with a jar on a hill in TennesseeDonly this one appears to contain tiny human bones. That's a suitably ominous prelude to the dark saga of the Bloodworth clan, which revolves mostly around 17-year-old Fleming, an aspiring writer trying to evade the family legacy of violence and self-destruction. It is 1952 and his father, Boyd, has left their decrepit mountain home "seventy miles back of Nashville" for Detroit, not to work in an automobile factory like the other "hillbillies" but to search forDand killDthe peddler who has run off with his wife. Meanwhile, Fleming's grandfather, E.F. Bloodworth, a blues musician, is on his way home after having suffered a "stroke of paralysis" 20 years earlier. His handsome Uncle Warren, a former war hero now at loose ends, is a dissipated womanizer with an even more dissolute and unstable son, and his Uncle Brady "witches" for water, tells fortunes and casts hexes on those who do him wrong. Even as the Tennessee Valley Authority is moving in to clear and flood their valley and bring in "the electricity," Fleming's relatives and neighbors live by the backwoods code of violence exemplified by E.F., a man whose exploits are legendary among the locals. Only Raven Lee Halfacre, the 16-year-old daughter of a promiscuous alcoholic and the "prettiest girl in a three county area," offers the boy a glimpse of another way of life. Fleming's name echoes that of one of Faulkner's most memorable characters, and Gay's prose resembles that of Faulkner at his most florid. His stylistic quirksDespecially his refusal to set off dialogue with quotation marksDtake some getting used to, but the pitch-perfect rendition of the cadences of Southern speech and deeply poetic descriptions of the landscape more than compensate. (Dec. 26) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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