Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In Memoriam - William Gay, a master storyteller

Southern Gothic author William Gay (M), 68 years young, passed away in his sleep last week. A late bloomer as an author, Gay's first novel (Long at Home) was published at age 55. He quickly became a critic's darling, so much that a bidding war erupted for his second novel. He won numerous awards and accolades, such as being named a USA Ford Foundation Fellow in 2007 and winning the 1999 James A. Michener Memorial Prize.

Described as a quiet and gentle person, his stories are anything but. His characters are dark, brooding types, filled with dysfunctional thoughts and unusual perspectives. His style is often likened to that of William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.

Gay was also a music critic and considered an expert on Bob Dylan. Not too surprising then that several of his stories also have musical themes and characters.

"Writers like Flannery O'Connor or William Faulkner would welcome William Gay as their peer for getting characters so entangled in the roots of a family tree." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Gay's vivid prose and dramatic instinct create lasting images and human moments of genius." - Irish Times

"At his best, Gay writes with the wisdom and patience of a man who has witnessed hard times and learned that panic or hedging won't make better times come any sooner; he looks upon beauty and violence with equal measure and makes an accurate accounting of how much of each the human heart contains." - Tony Earley - NYTimes

His literary agent, Amy Williams describes reading Gay's stories as “a transporting experience, one where you get so happily lost in another world that it's a real letdown to go back to your own”.

We currently have two of William Gay's books in our collection: the 2002 short story collection, I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down: collected stories (M); and his 2006 suspense novel, Twilight: a novel (M). Give yourself a literary treat and place a hold on these books and discover for yourself why so many authors and readers referred to William Gay as a master storyteller.

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