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The Long Home

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,104 ratings  ·  227 reviews
In a literary voice that is both original and powerfully unsettling, William Gay tells the story of Nathan Winer, a young and headstrong Tennessee carpenter who lost his father years ago to a human evil that is greater and closer at hand than any the boy can imagine - until he learns of it first-hand. Gay's remarkable debut novel, The Long Home, is also the story of Amber ...more
Hardcover, 257 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by MacMurray & Beck (first published 1999)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,104 ratings  ·  227 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern, hardboiled
”He held in his hands a human skull. It was impacted with moss and mud, a salamander curled in an eyesocket, periwinkles clinging like leeches to the worn bone. Bright shards of moss clung to the cranium like perverse green hair. He turned it in his hands. A chunk of the occipital bone had been blown away seemingly by some internal force, the brain itself exploding and breaking the confines of the skull. He turned it again so that it seemed to mock him, its jaws locked in a mirthless grin, the t ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
Dark, brooding, meandering slice of life tale from deep in the hills of Tennessee, 1940's-style.  From chicken thievery to blatant skullduggery, bootleggers, scofflaws, and evil bullies ride rampant.  Hear the scolding of the jays as you enter the woods.  Have your coffee topped off by a bentlegged waitress.  And for the sake of all that is holy, stay out of Dallas Hardin's notice and reach.  

As an aside, I noticed a definite predilection for last names beginning with the letter "H" - Hardin, Ho
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I’m filled with that rare sense of pure reading joy at being deepened, improved and highly entertained by a great novel. This is a story, a real one, but I had to force myself to slow it down since every single word, every sentence, and the arrangement are something to savor and turn over and over. But first, how I got here: Haphazardly I started communicating with a virtual stranger online about books we had in common. He suggested William Gay, new to me, and I read Twighlight which I loved. Th ...more
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Let’s dig up hogs sprouting from the ground; worship a yawning pit; make risky deals; form deadly acquaintances; join a bloody bar fight; steal thoroughbreds; build a whorehouse; dig up jars of greasy money.

In other words: so much fun to be had here.

Still, I’ve given nothing away, because aside from plot (more structured than Provinces of Night), the essence of the story is difficult to explain, there is a sense of finality throughout, longing and nostalgia: it’s a heady mix and with William G
Joy D
***I have been asked to add a spoiler alert for this review. I do not think it gives too much away, but am willing to add a disclaimer, so be aware that someone considers this review to contain spoilers. ***

This Southern Gothic novel set in rural Tennessee opens in 1932 with the murder of Nathan Winer by local bootlegger Dallas Hardin over the placement of a still on Winer’s land. Hardin hides the body, and the community believes Winer has simply left the area, which frequently occurred during t
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of Southern Gothic
They must have invented the term “Southern Gothic” to define William Gay. This is my third of his novels, and I was pulled in and held by the throat through each of them. He can create evil characters that are frighteningly real. In fact, it is the reality of them that makes you shiver and wonder if the bolts on your door are fastened tightly enough at night.

The dark oppressed him. This dark house of stopped clocks and forfeit lives and seized machinery. Here in the watery telluric dark past and
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-writers
Just a superb book by one of our most gifted modern southern writers. Sadly, William Gay is no longer with us, but his books live on for those willing to hunt for these treasures.
Horace Derwent
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fucking love American Southern (Country) (Noir)

And yes, I even changed my accent a few years back (you know, I spoke Cockney 20 years ago, as I first started to learn English)
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of: Daniel Woodrell, Tom Franklin, Larry Brown...
Recommended to Still by: William Gay is a personal favorite.
Second time reading this novel.
Second review of same.

I received three William Gay books plus this one as birthday gifts from my wife.
I'd previously read an e-book version of this one but I always prefer physical copies.
Seem to retain more of the novel if it's something I can hold in my hands and actually own.

This is a superb novel.
It's a gravel-road noir, a classic murder mystery and a character study out of Faulkner.

It opens with the murder of Nathan Winer Senior by the bootlegger and bully-of
Paul E. Morph
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Gay writes with a kind of hallucinatory detachment that made me feel like I was observing the events of this story through LSD-infused bulletproof glass. I know I sound like I'm talking bollocks but that's as close as I can come to describing this author's remarkable style.

He weaves a few plot threads around each other in a way that's slightly dizzying at times and sometimes things are left open to interpretation.

One minor irritation: characters mention Coca Cola so often I did wonder wh
Doug H
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing

"I never needed nobody anyway, he told himself. Nary one of them, then or now, and at last he was touched with a cold and solitary peace. For he had the white road baking hot in the noonday sun, the wavering blue treeline, the fierce, sudden violence of summer storms. At night the moon tracked its accustomed course and the timeless whippoorwills tolled from the dark and they might have been the selfsame whippoorwills that called to him in his youth. That’s all that matters, he told himself with
Diane Barnes
Nov 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Well-written .......very moving passages and descriptions of people, locations and nature.
Well-crafted ........plot and characterizations carry the story along perfectly.
I am torn between 4 stars for the writing, and 3 stars because this book made me squirm, and not in a good, conscience stricken way as with a book that teaches me something, but because of the bleakness of the setting and his characters lives. I read some of Gay's short stories a few months ago, but had to give up after the four
4.5 stars. This is William Gay’s debut novel, published when he was 57 years old, and I have to say it didn’t wow me quite like his second book, ‘Provinces Of Night.’ But let’s not quibble. Mr. Gay was a genius at writing Southern Gothic characters, backwoods Tennessee dialect, and unbelievably poetic landscapes. I so wish this man had started writing a lot sooner in his life, or maybe lived a lot longer.

Evil is afoot in the Tennessee hills in the 1930’s and 40’s through the persona of Dallas Ha
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is or rather was William Gay's debut novel. Unfortunately, Gay passed away in 2012 at the age of 70

Though released in 1999, this book has a meager 473 ratings and 61 reviews, which is sad. Such a masterpiece deserves a much larger audience.

It does take Gay a little while to hit his stride with this work, but once he does the delivery is nothing short of genius.

Best described as Southern Gothic, this is a book the explores the complexity of human nature as well as our interconnectedness.

Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
Rough-edged – Unflinching – Lyrical prose. Compelling! More to follow (maybe).
A stunning debut novel written by a 57-year old author.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-gothic
They drove through a land in ruin, a sprawling, unkept wood of thousands of acres, land bought by distant companies or folks who'd never seen it. Yet they passed unlit houses and old tilting grocery stores with their rusting gaspumps attendant and it was like driving through a country where civilization had fallen and vanished, where the gods had turned vengeful or perverse so that the denizens had picked up their lives and fled. Old canted oblique shanties built without regard for roads or the ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've waited a while before writing this review, as I've been trying to decide what it is I like so much about William Gays writing. He seems to encapture all that is good in a writer, at least for me. The way he establishes such a strong sense of time and place, the believability (not sure that's a real word) of the characters he creates, and the way they behave rationally within the confines of their own logic, whether it be in a good or a bad way. Dallas Hardin is an evil/vile (choose either a ...more
Andy Weston
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Somewhat illogically, this was my fourth of Gay's novels, as chronolgically, it is the first, and it reads like that, if I hadn't known it already I could have guessed. There are just snippets of his writing, the odd passage here and there, that indicate the potential that he went on to fill in Twilight and Provinces Of Night, but as a whole, I didn't find this quite as wonderful as those two.
It has his trademark, that rural and desolate landscape, and the initial sublime soon turns into someth
In his short story “The Valley,” Rick Bass writes, “I wake up smiling sometimes because I have all my days left to live in this place.” I know exactly what that’s like. William Gay knows exactly what that’s like too.

5 stars in a prayerful kind of way. Hardin and Oliver’s final showdown made my fingers twitch, it’s so good. It didn’t catch and pass Provinces of Night because I love the Bloodworths beyond reason, but The Long Home shares all the essential DNA.

First read January 2012

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July 2
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pure brilliance à la Cormac McCarthy. I love Southern Gothic. William Gay has nailed it. More later...maybe.
I'm not worthy.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
William Gay, rest his soul, had a way of crafting a story that while reminiscent of other great contemporary authors also hits spots that are so very uniquely his. You know how some books just flow? The ones where you can follow the author's process behind a desk as they seemingly let their thoughts create a rough draft initially only to come back with slight edits where needed because the spontaneous creative process was what the author was trying to convey........well that's not Gay. Particula ...more
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to sappho_reader by: On The Southern Literary Trail
Bootleggers, honky-tonks, murder, revenge, desperation, crooked deputy's, Whitecaps, long held secrets...there's a lot of love about this book set in 1940's rural Tennessee. William Gay is a master storyteller. It's hard to believe that this was his debut novel. He has such a gift with words. The descriptions of nature and the landscape were like a lullaby. There were many times I became mesmerized by his prose that I had to shake my shake my mind awake and reread passages so not to miss events. ...more
William Gay writes a distinctive version of southern gothic. Cormac McCarthy’s Tennessee novels is obviously the model with almost episodic descriptions of small town and country stacked up into a tale seemingly plucked from the Old Testament, some dark forgotten Grimm’s fairy, or Greek tragedy. Gay adds a comic voice and handling of characters. His dialogue like Daniel Woodrell’s is almost too clever at points and some of poetic descriptions can approach McCarthy parody and a lot of this novel ...more
Lori Kishlar
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Well, i wanted to love this book. On the back it mentions evil about 13 times. I like horror and I like evil, so okay! No. By evil they just mean there's a guy who is a dick. The cavernous pit that is mentioned, it isn't evil. It's just a pit. I thought some supernatural stuff would happen but it didn't.

The story IS good, but it isn't what i read from the back teaser. Also, I found it hard to believe this was written by a guy. It is very flowery and i believe they used the thesaurus for each pa
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Reading like a Southern Gothic regurgitation of Cormac McCarthy, late author Gay's debut novel explores the dualities of youth and age, life and death. Despite a slow start, and notwithstanding the author's unusual fascination with lengthy descriptions of the sky on almost every page, the story builds to a resounding, though inevitable, climax. The emotional heft of the tale is due more to the arcs of the vibrant characters than to the nearly incidental plot. ...more
Laury Kerr
Dec 19, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not very far into the book, only about 100 pages. But, I'm not sure if I can go too much past this point. The rambling, overly descriptive language is almost too much to take. I certainly understand that some good use of adjectives is needed, but wow, this is really a bit over the top. ...more
Kirk Smith
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm blown away. This is the second novel of his that I have read and I am still shocked by just how good he is. Normally what I would be reading would satisfy me if I just related to the characters, but with his novels I feel myself evolve into and become the character(s). He plays to sensibilities and builds slowly, nothing contrived, and then just as naturally as you please the anticipated disaster brings you to your knees. This is Classic Literature in its highest form. ...more
Feb 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I must have expected too much from this book due to all the good reviews, because it just didn't seem that great to me. While I usually finish a book in 2-3 days, this one took me over 2 months because I simply could not get into it. A lot of rambling, overly descriptive writing, without enough real meat to the story. I spent the entire read wondering when something entertaining was going to happen. Never really did.

The Hardin character was hardly an embodiment of pure evil, in fact he seemed mo
Mike Simmons
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
William Gay is indeed a master of the written word in The Long Home. Every page brings a new wonder of words and storyline. His words and descriptions and attention to detail are as good as I have ever read. His characters are real and memorable. I became attached to them like family, I knew their flaws and thier goodness. As I read it, I kept waiting for a letdown in this tale, but it never came. Good to the last word.

At times the evil and wasted humanity in this story is hard to take, but I to
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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.

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“In the molten fire where he lay he could watch the slow machinations of eternity, the cosmic miracle of each second being born, eggshaped, silverplated, phallic, time thrusting itself gleaming through the worn and worthless husk of the microsecond previous, halting, beginning to show the slow and infinitesimal accreations of decay in the clocking away of life in a mechanism encoded at the moment of conception, withering, shunted aside by time's next orgasmic thrust, and all to the beating of some galactic heart, to voices, a madman's mutterings from a snare in the web of the world.” 11 likes
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