Customer Review

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lyrical writing, 9 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Provinces of Night (Paperback)
I've lived in Tennessee for almost 30 years, in the urban setting
of Knoxville. I'm a caver, and the hunting for new caves takes
me to small towns and deeply rural areas in rugged terrain, where
one can be 40 miles from the nearest supermarket. You learn that
there are places to be avoided, where strangers are not welcome.
(You can also find such places in London, Glasgow, etc., as well
as in parts of the English countryside.) The law can be far away
and not impartial in some locations. Provinces of Night deals
with small-town Tennessee rather than the deeply rural and remote
parts. The central figure, Fleming Bloodworth, is not violence-
prone, but violence is often not far away. There is humor and
tenderness, as well as violence and death, but that's often how
life can be. Tennessee is not a slaughterhouse, but it's not
unusual to see "Three Dead in Cocke County Bar Fight" on the
evening news.
William Gay started writing at age 52. He seems to have been
strongly influenced by the novels of Cormac McCarthy, especially
those set in Tennessee (Suttree, The Orchard Keeper, Child of
God--all set in Knoxville and the surrounding counties). The
title comes from McCarthy's dark and brooding novel Child of God.
Gay's first novel, The Long Home, has a flavor similar to Child
of God, but Provinces of Night is closer to Suttree and The
Orchard Keeper. Gay's writing skills are on a par with McCarthy:
after reading Provinces of Night and The Long Home, I reread
McCarthy's novels, and took a long pause when I encountered the
phrase "provinces of night" in Child of God. I wondered in
McCarthy was writing under a pseudonym.
There's a great power and lyrical quality in Gay's writing. When
I got halfway through Provinces of Night I began to dread turning
the pages, since every page read brought me closer to the end.
So I ordered The Long Home from Amazon, taking comfort in the
knowledge that hundreds of more pages would be waiting for me.
Gay's third work, I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down, a
collection of short stories, has just been published, and it
contains some of the finest short stories I've ever read.
Gay is a great new addition to our current Southern writers.
He's the darker side to the rural South: for the lighter side
read T.R. Pearson's whimsical novel A Short History of a Small
Place.
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Location: knoxville, tennessee United States

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