In this gothic collection of short tales from the mountains of east Tennessee,
the dark undercurrent below the surface of all of the lead characters leaves
a funny taste in the readerís mouth.
All thirteen of the stories are well crafted by William Gay, one of the foremost
writers working in the Southern Fiction genre today. Heís been published
in Harperís, GQ, The Atlantic Quarterly, and various
editions of New Stories from The South. All of his characters speak with
realistic dialect and a smooth natural cadence. Each of helps to move the plot
ahead. Each one causes a change in the characters they come in contact with.
These are the marks of a strong writer.
The thing that readers remember most about this collection o
f short stories,
though, is the subject. The focus moves from a murderous paperhanger in one
story to an old man fighting living in an old folks home in another. There is
the obligatory wise old man who gets the emotionally floundering young man back
on track. Forty-plus year marriages ending after a dog gets shot is par for
the course in this book.
A real darkness and sense of fatalism permeates these tales. It gets so deep
at times that it makes you wonder what is really going on in Gayís head.
The lack of quotation marks around the sections of dialogue adds to this sense,
creating an unusual texture. Some readers may not like the resulting sensation.
Well written and articulate, this book deserves to be read. It may not sit
well with every reader but it is worth the effort to try.