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

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  878 ratings  ·  105 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 of 2,664)
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Jamie
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
Shaun
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
...more
Elizabeth Michael
Feb 01, 2008 Elizabeth Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Alex
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
Rose
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
Josh
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
Gordon
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
...more
Kirk Smith
I don't pass out fives casually and I don't play. Best Collection of Short Stories- Ever
Carl Brush
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
John
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
...more
Amanda
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
Erik Orellana
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.
Jason
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.
Kossiwa
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.
Djrmel
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
Lady R.E. Miller
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
...more
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
Gregory
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.
Mercedes
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.
Nate
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
Ryan
Another great read. This guy is amazing. His way with words —he’s just the perfect writer for me. His sentences pop, his word choice is always spot on, he’s not hard to follow yet he’s deep and philosophical. His stories flow, a bit vague at first as he leads the reader into the scenario, but significance dripping in every description, every action, every line of dialogue.

I could do a recap of each of his stories, but there’s no point. They are all awesome, profound in their own ways. If I coul
...more
Zombieaps
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.
Cory
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.
H
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.
Eric
I love William Gay's writing and was so sad to learn of his passing.

His writing is unlike any I've ever read before. People praise Cormac McCarthy - and rightfully so - but Gay surpasses the portraits he paints with his words, even as sparse as McCarthy.

Such a treat.
Joshua Wilson
Gay's brilliant Southern Gothic stories are haunting. Nowhere but in a Gay anthology would you find a story like "The Paperhanger." I was entranced by the lurid characters, the helplessness of some, and the immediate southern voice they all shared.
Charles White
Really glad I gave William Gay a second chance. While I wasn't a fan of TWILIGHT, this collection of stories demonstrates a stylistic restraint that enhances the reading experience. I am slowly being converted by this writer.
Jennifer Lizcano
I read this every morning on the BART on my way to work at On Lok during the summer of 2006. I adore short stories and these are as high a quality an any I've read. All a bit melancholy...but tasty.
Linda Dickson
I love this man's work. The first page of the first story and I was all in. I am from Tennessee and I can hear people long gone now speaking to me throught Mr. Gay' s book. READ IT!
Thomas Graham Cotten
A watershed in my writing life was when I realized that I could not write a story as good as The Paperhanger, and had to move on and write something different.
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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...
Twilight Provinces of Night The Long Home Wittgenstein's Lolita and The Iceman Time Done Been Won't Be No More

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