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The Lost Country

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Ten years after it was first announced, Dzanc is proud to deliver the lost novel from a master of the Southern Gothic—the work William Gay fans have anticipated for a decade.

Billy Edgewater is a harbinger of doom. Estranged from his family, discharged from the Navy, and touched by a rising desperation, he sets out hitchhiking home to East Tennessee, where his father is slo
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Dzanc Books
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  196 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Angela M
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it

A heavy dose of Southern Gothic, even for someone who enjoys the genre. Raw and gritty and sometimes gruesome things along the way, but the descriptions, the beautiful language made up for what seemed a bit exaggerated. At times it felt a little too much with everything you’d possibly expect - con men, bootleg whisky, healing tents with cries of salvation in the middle of the night, sad sack characters, poverty, abused women along the way and yes there was a snake too and again a lot of drinking
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 brilliant, Southern Gothic stars to The Lost Country! 🌙 🌙 🌙 🌙

Thank you to my friend, Marialyce, for recommending William Gay’s books to me and telling me about this new release. I was not aware when I downloaded it that the author passed away several years ago, and this previously unpublished novel was discovered among other works.

Billy Edgewater’s father is terminally ill, and while Billy has been the black sheep of the family, he is desperate to travel home to see his father. He hitchhikes
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
Tennessee 1955.  For true lovers of Southern Gothic who are into all out dirty and gritty.  This is filled with miscreants, shrill harridans, peckerwoods, and ne'er-do-wells.  Those old tent revivals, behold the feverish eyes of true believers as they are held sway to the preacher with the crazy eyes and his dire promises of fire and brimstone to all sinners.  Bootleg whiskey, runnin' it and drinkin' it.  One who uses a log for a pillow beneath an unforgiving moon.

Roosterfish, a one-armed bandit

”The day draws a shade
Pulls the thread of your frayed lace undone,
It falls like the evenings
That charm then devour their young—
The face of the moon
On the river will shiver and run,
From belief to surrender
And I want you to lead me on

“This is my body-
Already broken for thee,
The black coal at my soul not a diamond
But cracked open and free—
The dark rushing river sweeps
Pushing away and along,
Like light through the pines
And I want you to lead me on”

--“Lead Me On”, Joe Henry, Songwr
I wonder what it is about the Southern gothic style that appeals to me so much. What is my fascination with the grotesque, the derelict? What is it about old hateful crones, psychotic evangelists, desperate waitresses who work in woe-begotten diners on the side of the highway? What is it about the crazed bootlegger or the woman adorned with nothing but her goiter and a grin?

The relentless poverty and decay, the men in faded overalls, the constant drinking of whisky - well, this recipe doesn't e
Adam Nevill
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A startling reminder of why I read so much - ever seeking gems like this novel. I'd pitch it as a blend of McCarthy's 'Suttree' and Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales'. As a writer, to my eye, Gay mastered it all: the poetry, insight, story, comedy and tragedy, the tremendous characters that make you ashamed of humanity but still admire it.

The story behind this book's discovery is extraordinary too. Gay died in 2012 and weeks before his death, he couldn't find the next novel he intended for publication
William Gay fully immerses our senses in his posthumueously published novel The Lost Country.

The novel exposes us to a deliciously dark southern underbelly, one that, when paired with its sparse, lean prose and quiet intensity, becomes an incredibly mesmerising story full of loners, con-men, and rascally down-and-outers who emphatically capture our attention.
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddy-reads
William Gay was a master, and if you haven't sampled one of his books, people - please do. May I recommend, however, that it miiiiight not be this one to begin with. The Lost Country had been promised to Gay's publisher by spring 2012 (around the same time he passed away), but the truth is that between the previous year of seizures and a heart attack which required EMTs to bag him and resuscitate him, William forgot where he'd put the full manuscript.

What this book is, then, is the compilation o
Doug H
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
It’s not William Gay’s fault that I can’t recommend this. It’s purely the fault of J. M. White (whoever the hell he is) and the members of Gay’s estate who allowed him to cobble this mess together from miscellaneous drafts and rough outlines. Money grubbing is a sad business.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Hardscrabble lives make hard-going reading.

William Gay made his living as a carpenter and drywall-hanger, and published his first novel in 1998 when he was fifty-seven. He died in 2012 and since then three new titles of his have appeared posthumously. This is one of them.

I’m afraid I didn’t get on with it at all but that is more to do with me as a reader rather than Gay as a writer. I’m not keen on this type of aimless ‘on the road’ novel where the main protagonist is on a journey (in this case,
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love this book. I hate this book. It is all thinks William Gay. My reading time is so slight now, and this one took me half a year. Glad I chewed slowly.

A few points.

1) If you've never read William Gay......don't start here, it will be hard to appreciate- start with I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down: Collected Stories (if you do short stories) or either Provinces of Nightor Twilight if you only do novels.

2) The whole "Gay imitates Cormac McCarthy" thing lives on- this one patterned after
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who enjoy Faulkner, O'Connor, Larry Brown, and Tom Franklin
Recommended to Still by: I Collect The Writings Of William Gay
This is the last novel published by William Gay but possibly the first novel he ever wrote.

Told in a series of vignettes, the novel is about a young man who has been a grave disappointment to his family back home along the Cumberland Plateau in Far Eastern Tennessee, just released from the Navy or maybe just the brig and hitch-hiking home to Monteagle, Tennessee from Long Beach, California.

The book itself starts out in 1955. In Memphis and from there all points east.
It's by turns mournful, humor
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
William Gay's grim menagerie of the Southern Gothic, finished shortly before his death, has finally been pieced together from manuscripts, and it's wonderful. He has channeled the desperation of Carson McCullers, the characterization of Flannery O'Connor, and the language of Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner. That may seem like hyperbole, but it's not. He was that good. Fans of European Weird fiction could appreciate this 'purple' writing. The only reason this book doesn't rate higher is perh ...more
Didn’t have time to read the whole book, but got a strong feel of the countryside, the people, the times. Yes, it’s dark. Gay obviously loved the language and took a great pride in sparsity and precision of each sentence. I’ll be back to read more of William Gay.
Dave N
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-gothic
I usually shy away from works published posthumously, especially when the work wasn't complete before the author died. But, unlike Little Sister Death, which was the first work published by William Gay after his death in 2012, which struggled to define itself and ultimately left me wishing they had left the manuscript alone, The Lost Country feels more complete than anything else Gay ever wrote. That's why it didn't surprise me to learn that the book had actually been written back in the 70's, a ...more
Keith Rosson
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Meandering, long-winded, stereotypical female characters, thin on plot... and still pretty lovely.

There's such a joy in Gay's sometimes over-the-top lyricism, such a richness to his writing, that I don't mind the fact that even after 300+ pages not a whole lot of note takes place. It's just such a blast to read the sentences themselves. That aside, one of my favorite elements of Gay's writing is on full display here - and that's the oftentimes dark hilarity of being broke-ass, deathly poor. He
Michael Ferro
My full review will be published at Heavy Feather Review ( literary journal in the coming future.
J.K. Grice
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: southern-writers
My introduction to contemporary southern writers began when my brother sent me a copy of William Gay's The Long Home. It's still one of the few novels I've read in less than 24 hours. I loved everything about that book and William Gay's writing, and I also devoured Provinces of Night and Twilight when they were published. As I have reflected on Gay's writing style, it reminds me of the atmospheric prose of Ron Rash, paired with the visceral and raw character development of Larry Brown. And, he's ...more
Zachary Houle
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
William Gay died in 2012 at the age of 70, presumably of a heart attack, but two of his books have been published posthumously. The most recent has been The Lost Country, a novel that was first announced to be released 10 years ago. One may wonder why the wait has been so long, when Gay is usually namechecked as an influence on American Southern Gothic writers by people such as Caleb Johnson, whose debut novel Treeborne reads almost as a homage to Gay. Well, the answer may be that the book neede ...more
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
ahh, William Gay... this was a beautiful book, and no one can write like this man could... i was apprehensive about this one, the "posthumous publishing" thing always freaks me out, since often what wasn't published during an author's lifetime wasn't published for a reason, or the "estate" is just trying to grab some more cash from a dead person's legacy of writing by publishing their notebooks and manuscripts and such... but once i was about two paragraphs in i knew this was nothing of that sor ...more
Guy Salvidge
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the third of Gay's posthumously published novels and it may be the best of them. Following Little Sister Death and Stoneburner, The Lost Country is a backwoods epic reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's Suttree. I don't mean this as unreserved praise. I like McCarthy but I found Suttree to be a chore, and for long stretches The Lost Country is a chore too. The writing is beautiful, the descriptions vivid, but there simply isn't a narrative arc to hold this together for 350+ pages. What we hav ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This highly anticipated, posthumously published, gritty as all get out novel, is exactly what you would expect from this profound legend. It is definitely a bit thin on plot as we follow the trajectory of four different, down on their luck characters through 1955. His depiction of women was rough reading at times, and while there was always clear direction, the pace may have been lacking at times. But he was such an incredible writer, with the ability to describe scenery and events that border o ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Aside from a few too many similes in long, ropey sentences, this novel is near perfect. It’s a tireless, bleak and violent picaresque about a drifter unable to face up to himself. It’s moody weight falls like a stone through spring to summer to winter, the trajectory of life without specific cause, although the author intimates that everything is preordained. This may be only an excuse for the lives of the characters lived without purpose, wayward and unmoored. The result is a portrait of a regi ...more
Sep 18, 2018 marked it as chose-not-to-finish
Love William Gay. Miss William Gay.

Incredibly sorry that he didn't live to finish and edit this book. The bones are promising, but good gravy is it a meandering mess in its current state. I decided to stop a little more than half-way through because it became work rather than pleasure to wade through it. I'll reread one of his finished novels when I need a fix.

Not rated due to not being something I can imagine the author intending.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
To be honest there wasn’t much of a plot in this book. However the writing is amazing. William Gay’s descriptions of events, people, items, and places really evokes the gothic south. Also due to its sitting primarily in West Tennessee and a little in North Alabama it’s like reading about home (though my personal experience wasn’t so dark).
Andrew Ayers
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing author and book. And the way this story came about. The manuscript was in his kid's garage collecting mold when an interested fan of his works sought it out and pieced this together after William's death. It was almost as good as Suttree.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Willard's gonna kill you."
"Willard's took to the deep pineys. Willard's never killed anything except a halfpint of whiskey and his mama's dreams."
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful if you loved suttree by cormac Mccarthy you will love this book
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you love Southern Gothic, look no further than The Lost Country. Gritty, dark with characters that you would go out of your way to avoid. But as always, with an underlying hope. This is a posthumously published book from William Gay and it's fantastic.

Billy Edgewater is trying to get home to his dying father. He has no money and no means of travel so he's depending on his legs and the kindness of strangers to get him ha
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best of the Year - 2018

9.5/10 - They God Almighty!

William Gay's lost novel- now found and published posthumously- is a gift from beyond.. a treasure. It joins Gay's "Twilight" and "I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down" on my short list of all-time favorites. I may write a slightly longer review at some point, but I need some time to reflect. A couple of my favorite passages...

Where are you now, where have you gone these years? You were a little girl, there was a dirty stuffed lamb you would no
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William Gays' final novel 3 69 Jul 31, 2014 08:27AM  

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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.