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

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,537 ratings  ·  150 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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4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,537 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-gothic
Excellent writing within these thirteen stories without one happy ending. Not one.
The endings will range from sad and regretful to down right gut wrenching.
Characters will meet their demise by accident, murder, suicide, disease and delusion.
The title story, one of my favorites, has been made into a movie starring Hal Holbrook.
In an interview with Holbrook about this movie he states that his in-laws are from this area of Tennessee and that he believes he has a good grasp of this type of people
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hate to see that evenin sun go down,
cause it makes me think I'm on my last go-around.

Gay uses lovely prose to lay down stories of some unhappy people involved in nasty affairs and even nastier murders.

Sometime that night, or another night, he went out the screen door onto the back porch, dressed only in his pajama bottoms, the night air cool on his skin. Whippoorwills were tolling out of the dark and a milky blind cat's eye of a moon hung above the jagged treeline. Out there in the dark patc
Vit Babenco
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
William Gay peoples his world with a lot of pathological characters… They live dangerously… They abide in twilight… Their brains squirm like toads…
She’d asked him about drugs once and never forgotten what he’d said. Everybody’s on drugs, he said. The world’s on drugs. Heroin, sex, booze, money. Television. Comfort. What I get from you, that’s a drug. Calmness. Any kind of crutch you can hobble through the goddamned day on is a drug. Darkness.

His dark and despondent style may be traced to Flanner
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
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this in about 2 days on vacation in South Carolina, and it was perfect. The emotional content of these stories is intense, and the relationships of men and women in love is blended with spike needles of violence which arrives suddenly and shockingly. These are real people, down and outers mixing with the newly successful. People losing their culture and land due to modern encroachments in culture and politics. Gay is a special writer, he reminds me of Larry Brown and is every bit as talen ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kirk Smith
I don't pass out fives casually and I don't play. Best Collection of Short Stories- Ever
Jul 07, 2012 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
Sep 08, 2010 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
Elizabeth Michael
Feb 01, 2008 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
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had never read William Gay before this book. Not even sure I'd heard of him. This one popped up on some list of crime short stories and I decided to try him out. Really glad I did. He's a master. I wouldn't say crime is the main element in these stories, though. They're really stories about loss and irreversible decisions.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
These stories are incredible. I’d never heard of this writer before but now I’m so so happy that I did. 🖤
Diane Barnes
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: could-not-finish
I'm giving up now. The fifth story was also murder, evil and people lost to the world. I'll give it 3 stars because of the quality of the writing, but it's too dark for me.
Aug 26, 2012 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
Feb 18, 2008 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
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Update 5/22/17: Reread The Paperhanger Short Story out of this collection. 5 stars hands down. My favorite short story of all time. Dark and Mysterious and intense. This particular short story was another work of literature that has shaped Donald Ray Pollock's writing.
Jun 13, 2014 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.
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-fiction
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.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jun 24, 2015 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
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 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
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-noir
Another southern noir (Tennessee) gem -- but with a difference. For me, that biggest difference wasn't physical brutality, but mental brutality. Unlike the visceral fierceness of a Donald Ray Pollock (whom I love), Gay's anguish and despair is more internal than external. Yes, nasty things still happen in these stories, but it's the reflections, the realizations, the terrible unfairness of it all, that haunted me. For example, when looking at a friend dying of cancer, Gay writes:

"He had felt fo
Jan 19, 2011 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 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.
Chris M
Apr 12, 2016 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!
Dave N
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
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another perfect book by William Gay, this one a collection of short stories, each of which pulls you gently in. Each story could have been a novel unto itself, but instead we are instantly plunged into the middle of a situation, with no beginning and no real end, which was mildly frustrating and disappointing, but that's the nature of the short-story form. With each story, I yearned for more closure, more information. Gay's words are to be read slowly and savored like a fine chocolate in rare su ...more
Sep 26, 2015 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!
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most of these stories feature characters teetering on the brink of disaster; and usually -- as in the short stories of Flannery O'Connor -- they fall over the edge. If it's not quite Southern Gothic, it's certainly Southern Grim. Beautifully written, best taken in small doses.
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William Elbert Gay was 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 was the winner of the 1999 William Peden Award and the 1999 James A. Michener Memorial Prize and the recipient of a 2002 Guggenheim Fellowship.
“You get a picture of things in your head and your picture is all you see. You don't know me. You don't even know yourself. All you know is your little picture of how things ought to be, and that's the way you think they are.” 1 likes
“He was continually called upon to explain himself and day by day it had grown harder so that by now there didn't seem to be any words, the right phrases hadn't been coined yet.” 0 likes
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