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I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down: Collected Stories

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  1,166 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
William Gay established himself as "the big new name to include in the storied annals of Southern Lit" (Esquire) with his debut novel, The Long Home, and his highly acclaimed follow-up, Provinces of Night. Like Faulkner's Mississippi and Cormac McCarthy's American West, Gay's Tennessee is redolent of broken souls. Mining that same fertile soil, his debut collection, I Hate ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Free Press (first published 1988)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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I’ve realized why I rate books five stars. At least in the past couple years, since I stopped reading out of a sense of duty and started reading out of a sense of love. Five stars aren’t saved for some objective perfection (although they’re usually perfection for me). Five stars are for certain kind of story with guts and reverence. Five stars are for the stories I want to cut off the TV and shut off the phone and stay up all night to read. The kind of stories that are just damn good stories, th ...more
No Name
I purchased a used hardcover copy via Amazon for cheap. When it arrived I realized for the first time that I actually purchased from the Goodwill Industry of Middle Tennessee. Then I opened up the package and OMG!!!!

william gay photo FullSizeRender_zpsntr7fhcm.jpg
Signed by William Gay himself!
I hate absolutes and grand statements, but I'm going to say it anyway...this is probably the best collection of short stories I've ever read. Okay, that's probably too grand, so I'll just say it's one of the best I've read in a while.

Firstly - I love Southern Gothic fiction.

Secondly - William Gay is a master wordsmith. His descriptions are perfectly poetic and poetically perfect.

Thirdly - I love interesting and layered characters and Gay's characters are some of the best (even the ones that mig
Apr 04, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing
Gay has a way of mixing the most unlikely of elements together in a way that provides genuine realism to each of these twisted, quick plots. Each of these tales could have easily been developed into full blown novels, but yet, they are in no way incomplete in the presented format. Who would think a teenage mutant ninja turtle backpack would have a non-cheesy place in a short about a love gone wrong, failed suicide attempt? Yet, these little quirks are blended into the story in a way that without ...more
Mar 14, 2008 Alex rated it it was amazing
I learned that you need to do yourself a favor and start reading William Gay. Why isn't this guy a household name? OK- he's treading on Flannery's turf, I get it. It is often dark and almost always Southern. Get over your reservations and read him. There will be something in here that will make your jaw drop in astonishment - the prose is often simply that amazing. But forget all the craft considerations... do you remember reading stories that sucked you in completely - stories that you didn't w ...more
Elizabeth Michael
Feb 01, 2008 Elizabeth Michael rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who don't mind dark stories and violence, emotional, physical, and otherwise
Gay's prose is both electric and unplugged, to be quite cliche about it. Seriously, though, this is like listening to a scratchy old recording of a great blues singer and feeling as though they are there in the room with you, and that everything they are saying about life and love and regret and the amazing brutality humans are capable of enacting against one other and themselves is a universal chain of language stretching from one social class, gender, and era to the next, unending and unbreaka ...more
Oct 08, 2012 Rose rated it it was amazing
William Gay is a fantastic writer. How I hadn't heard of him before is baffling, but I'm glad I know of him now & can read more of his work. Hopefully it'll be just as good as this because this was one of the best short story collections I've ever read. That the writing is so amazing & the stories so riveting & pretty much flawless is what enabled me to ignore that they all shared something else in common: they were really dark, sometimes twisted, often bordering on creepy and always ...more
Kirk Smith
Aug 22, 2014 Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing
I don't pass out fives casually and I don't play. Best Collection of Short Stories- Ever
Oct 02, 2010 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this one very slowly because, one, it demands it, and two, I never wanted it to end — much like the rural Tennesseean characters themselves in the collection. Most of them are faced with some inevitable life change, some "setting sun," and they rage against this dying of the light in their own ways, whether it's adultery or murder or . . . okay, so mostly adultery or murder. These are prideful, stubborn folk.

Here in short form, Gay really shines, because it better focuses and balances the
Feb 04, 2016 Beverley rated it it was amazing
I don't think I have ever read the works of a better writer than William Gay. He is absolutely brilliant. I was THERE in every story. His writing is so evocative that, if I weren't so swept up in the action and the moment, I would reread a sentence or paragraph for the sheer joy of it.
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 Carl R. rated it it was amazing
One of the most enduring and endearing lyrics in music is the opening line from “The St. Louis Blues.” William Gay chose well for the title of the title story of his collection: I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down. It’s a story about alzheimer’s. Dementia. Told from the point of view of the victim. There’s another in this volume. “Those Deep Elm Brown’s Ferry Blues.” There are a couple of more about getting-older-end-of-life matters as well. Not that Gay is obsessed with the subject any more ...more
Mar 16, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: short_stories
William Gay has a gift for portraying the ugly side of human nature and the many dark and violent situations that arise from it with a prose style that is downright lyrical and poetic, even (or especially) if it seems overwrought at times. Comparisons to Cormac McCarthy are a little much, but there is some of that same darkly overwrought elegance in the dna of these stories.

The last two stories of the collection are by far the strongest and most moving, which I mention only because it may at ti
Jan 24, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this collection of short stories set in Tennessee. The characters were all vivid and surprising. Though I thought I could see where Gay's stories were leading, I was always pleasantly surprised by the character's decisions. This is not to say that those decisions felt unnatural either. I felt I was always in the company of real people making complex decisions and reacting to life. Much of the description was beautiful and weighty in just the right way. Gay's wry humor will st ...more
Jun 23, 2013 Andrew rated it it was amazing
William Gay is a powerhouse. His stories are strong and evoke all the strength of Cormac McCarthy's writing with a lot less of the obfuscation. I love the brutality of these stories. Each character is without hope and is unapologetic about that fact. He is efficient with his prose style and crafts a portrait without us as readers even noticing.
Erik Orellana
Jul 01, 2009 Erik Orellana rated it it was amazing
One of the best collections of short stories I've ever read. Whenever I read his work I want to leave everything and move down to Tenn. or Kentucky and drive around in a blue pick up truck. Gay is a man that knows how to write beautiful stories of lives falling apart.
Chris M
Jun 13, 2016 Chris M rated it it was amazing
It is like Cormac McCarthy but more readable! Why haven't i read this guy sooner! And it is rare you get a short story collection with every story so solid across the board. Great book! Thanks Ana for the recommendation!
Aug 31, 2013 Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-reads
This is as far as I'm concerned the best book ever written by a southern author. William Gay is my favorite writer, and this collection of his stories is just amazing. Every story is great and I love them all.
Jun 12, 2010 Kossiwa rated it it was amazing
I loved these stories, the vivid color of the scenes, the characters took you through the moments of their lives, into their techniques for solving the problems that they are struggling through.
Dave N
Dec 29, 2015 Dave N rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Gay feels like a writer stuck between novels and short stories. His first two novels have felt as if they had more gaps than they should, and this book of stories has felt like perhaps some of the tales were meant to be novel-length and just didn't make it there. That's not to say that some of the stories aren't good - some are amazing. But there is still that sense that Gay wasn't sure exactly who he wanted to be as a writer. Still, all in all, this book is a fine read for anyone who li ...more
Feb 27, 2009 Djrmel rated it really liked it
There's a quote from the Minneapolis Star Tribune's review of this collection of short stories on the fly leaf: "Writers like Flannery O'Connor or William Faulkner would welcome Gay as their peer for getting characters to entangled in the roots of a family tree.". That is a dead on description and praise for the stories Gay tells. Not one of these stories is an easy passage, not for the characters and not for the readers. Even in the few where it seems that everyone has the best intentions somet ...more
Jun 05, 2016 Tessa rated it really liked it
William Gay's writing is really beautiful. Especially the way he describes trees, the falling night, wild animals. His characters are rougher and more violent than anyone I know, but they all have a carefully thought out interior life. Each story feels private, intimate, because Gay writes characters who share their complex feelings with the reader but are unable to express them to other characters. He doesn't seem to like to write happy endings, and he likes to write about death. I think just o ...more
Lady R.E. Miller
Dec 02, 2008 Lady R.E. Miller rated it it was amazing
I generally don't like plot-heavy stories or stories where really dramatic things happen, but I make a complete exception for these stories. Lord are they good!

The story about Quincy Nell and Bonedaddy and the air conditioner (sorry I don't have a copy and can't remember the whole name -- I know it's long, though) is one of the best stories ever about jealously(along with Chekhov's "The Fidget). "Sugarbaby" is also wonderful. "The Paperhanger" is one of the scariest stories I've ever read. I ha
Oct 11, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These well-written short stories will not be everyone's cup of tea -- they all contain some dark and/or disturbing elements. However, that darkness was just right for reading in October! The stories engaged me right away & the descriptions of Tennessee, both physical and cultural, were brilliant. I look forward to reading some of Gay's full length novels!
Rhonda Browning White
Wow! Nothing short of amazing. This book of short stories will pull you in from it's first pages. Gay's characters are heartwrenchingly flawed, believable and will get under your skin and sleep with you. These stories are Southern Gothic in fashion, most (if not all) set in Tennessee. From the husband who can't take incessant barking and shoots his wife's beloved dog to the wife whose midlife crisis turns her into a groupie, these characters will have you examining the darker side of your own mi ...more
Aug 19, 2009 Gregory rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The gristle and Gothic (with a capital G) of working-class South perfectly balanced with luminous, lyrical prose. Not to mention some durn good storytelling to boot. Be forewarned, if this collection is ever an entry in Harper's Index, it would read:

Number of frozen mammal corpses: 4.
Number of frozen human corpses: 3.
Number of taxidermied pets: 1.
Number of sentences I wish I'd written: more than fifteen, judging by pages I've dog-eared.
Sep 24, 2012 Mercedes rated it it was amazing
I had not heard of William Gay until I read an article about him in Oxford American after his death. What a great collection of stories. Some are dark, as in The Paperhanger, but the writing is just beautiful as he gets into the heart of his rural Southern characters. Gay's early influences were Thomas Wolfe and Flannery O'Connor and it not hard to see William Faulkner Yoknapatawpha County represented in his Ackerman’s Field.
Dec 30, 2014 Nate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2011
Anyone looking for a doorway to the works of William Gay need look no further. I first read this collection 2 years ago, and the stories and characters have stayed with me. Recently read it again and was just as impressed the second time around. If you've never read William Gay, read this collection and become hooked on an excellent author. RIP WG
May 28, 2008 Cory rated it really liked it
William Gay is quickly becoming my all time favorite author. In these short stories, Gay tells a lifetimes worth of pain, love, lust, madness and so many other emotions and describes them to us with an incredible cast characters that we feel like we have known for a lifetime. I loved these stories and can't wait for his next book.
Feb 23, 2013 H rated it it was amazing
I read this book while spending time with my mom as she started chemo treatment for breast cancer. It was just the tonic I needed - characters who were familiar but not stereotypes, story lines that were the real life combination of humor and tragedy. I fell in love with William Gay's writing.
Guy Salvidge
Oct 12, 2014 Guy Salvidge rated it it was amazing
Larry Brown, Harry Crews, Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell - these are all Southern writers I like, a couple of them dearly. William Gay is the equal of every one them. These stories are fabulous. If you want to read Southern fiction, then this is as good a place to start as any.
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William Elbert Gay is the author of the novels Provinces of Night, The Long Home, and Twilight and the short story collection I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down. He is the winner of the 1999 William Peden Award and the 1999 James A. Michener Memorial Prize and the recipient of a 2002 Guggenheim Fellowship.
More about William Gay...

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“I just couldn't stand that goddamned yip yip yip.” 0 likes
“He was driving into a world where the owls roosted with the chickens, where folks kept whippoorwills for pets and didn't get the Saturday Night Opry till Monday morning.” 0 likes
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