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Provinces of Night
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Group Reads: Moderator's Choice > Initial Impressions: Provinces of Night, by William Gay, October 2018

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message 1: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
I have decided that since October is a time for darker reads, and since William Gay is a favorite with this group, and since I haven't read this one yet, we will go with Provinces of Night. I understand this is one of his best.


message 2: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I have decided that since October is a time for darker reads, and since William Gay is a favorite with this group, and since I haven't read this one yet, we will go with [book:Provinces of Night|29..."

Perfection. :-)


message 3: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 2284 comments Mod
Wonderful choice Diane! I hope to do a reread of this one if October allows.


message 4: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - added it

Tom Mathews | 2749 comments Mod
I'm looking forward to it.


Howard | 503 comments I bought it a week ago.


message 6: by Kristen (new) - added it

Kristen | 8 comments Looks intriguing, I’m in!


Franky | 346 comments I'll try to get a copy and join in. I still haven't read William Gay yet.


message 8: by LA Cantrell (new) - added it

LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Excellent!


Tina  | 488 comments Yay!


message 10: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 2284 comments Mod
Franky this one would be a great place to start. It’s more calm, IMO, than let’s say Twilight.


Harold Norman | 22 comments I'm about a third of the way into it. Fascinating set of characters very interested in where it's going to go.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 124 comments I read the first few pages. It's excellent so far. I read Gay's The Long Home last year and liked it a lot even though it was very slow in parts and also the author would spend at least one paragraph on each page with a lengthy description of the sky for some reason. This book, his second published novel I believe, already seems much more polished. The Cormac McCarthy influences are obvious.


Wyndy | 241 comments I’m about 20% in and absolutely hooked. This is my first William Gay, and his dialogue is perfection. Junior Albright and the crimper - what a hoot. I didn’t expect to laugh out loud with this book.


message 14: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
I just finished the first 30 pages, and you're right, Wyndy, the dialogue is perfect. Humor in even throwaway lines.


Howard | 503 comments Somewhere else I mentioned the humor in "Provinces of Night" and a friend commented that she would have never thought there was any humor at all based on the publisher's synopsis. She's right. I didn't know it either until I started reading the book. As Wyndy and Diane indicated above, it is there and it appears early.


message 16: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
When the grandmother is told she makes strong coffee: " If I wanted muddy water, I'd drink muddy water. " That is priceless.


message 17: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul | 21 comments Randy wrote: "I read the first few pages. It's excellent so far. I read Gay's The Long Home last year and liked it a lot even though it was very slow in parts and also the author would spend at lea..."

Spending a paragraph describing the sky is typical William Gay. The man's work is full of in depth descriptions of his surroundings and his characters. Thank god for that!
If you don't embrace Gay's beautiful lyricism, about even the most mundane of things, you are missing the point.


message 18: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1394 comments Have my copy in hand today and ready to start. So glad to know there will be humor!


Candi (candih) | 208 comments I have this on hold at the library, and it's ready for me! Just have to finish up Strange Fruit first, which has spilled over into this month for me :)


message 20: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Copy in hand! I will join in as soon as I finish The Color Of Lightning by Paulette Jiles. As a side note, Captain Thomas Kidd, the "News Reader," the protagonist of News of the World appears in this novel originally published in 2009. I highly recommend it!


message 21: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
I'm halfway through, and love every word. It's easy to see that William Gay was writing about a world and people he knew. The humorous dialogue makes me think he had a lot of these experiences himself. The Color of Lightning is on my list, Lawyer, along with a few hundred other books.


Wyndy | 241 comments I am close to halfway in and like Diane, I’m enjoying every single line. The dry wit in almost all of these superbly drawn, believable characters is making me a happy reader, but what is truly blowing me away is Gay’s poetic prose: “The earth was dry and baked white and fissured with cracks like miniature faults in the earth. Like the embryonic beginnings of some ultimate cataclysm.” Wow. This, from a drywall hanger who wasn’t published until he was 57 years old.


Howard | 503 comments Wyndy wrote: "I am close to halfway in and like Diane, I’m enjoying every single line. The dry wit in almost all of these superbly drawn, believable characters is making me a happy reader, but what is truly blow..."

Yes, he was 57 when first published but he had been writing stories in his head all those years that he was doing drywall.

I think it is interesting that just as things begin to turn dark, or after they do, Junior shows up to lighten the mood. By the way, I picture Junior being the spitin' image of George Lindsey, the actor who portrayed Goober Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show.

And the passage you quoted is a wonderful example of his prose.


message 24: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
Thanks a lot, Howard, now Goober is in my head. But you're right, he's a dead ringer for Junior.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 124 comments Paul wrote: "Spending a paragraph describing the sky is typical William Gay. The man's work is full of in depth descriptions of his surroundings and his characters. Thank god for that!
If you don't embrace Gay's beautiful lyricism, about even the most mundane of things, you are missing the point. "


I don't think that's true at all. There seem to be a lot of reasons to enjoy Gay's work. I liked his seedy characters and also enjoyed his patient exploration of the themes of life/death and youth/age. His long descriptions of the sky got old after a while. This book seems to be a bit more polished. So I don't think I missed the point at all.


Harold Norman | 22 comments Quite a cast of characters and I am enjoying his writing very much.


message 27: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1394 comments He knows how to resort to humor in just the right places to alleviate the heaviness of the general mood. I'm truly enjoying his writing.


Wyndy | 241 comments I was surprised to run across the name Jolie Blon in this book. Anybody remember James Lee Burke’s ‘Jolie Blon’s Bounce’ featuring Dave Robicheaux and the very evil Legion Guidry or Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Jole Blon’? I had to look the name up and found it comes from a famous 1946 Cajun song, ‘Jole Blon,’ by Harry Choates, an alcoholic fiddler from New Iberia, Louisiana. I wonder if Gay got the name from the original song or perhaps read Burke’s book (?).


message 29: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
Jolie Blon is also mentioned in a Jimmy Buffett song.


Wyndy | 241 comments Well, I just answered my own question. PON was published in 2001, so there goes the Burke theory :-)


message 31: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
I just looked up publication dates for this book (2000), and the James Lee Burke (2003), so it has to be the song.


message 32: by Howard (last edited Oct 03, 2018 04:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Howard | 503 comments Gay was very interested in music. In fact, he wrote magazine articles on the subject. He would have been familiar with all the versions of the song which were recorded by a number of artists.

One of the very first and most popular, and the one that I remember as a small boy, was by Grand Ole Opry singer and piano player Moon Mullican. ( I thought the name of the song was Jodie Blonde -- which is close.)

Since Gay has his characters listening to the Grand Ole Opry, as did my parents and all my relatives, I would bet that he was aware of this version. It was first recorded by Mullican in 1946, but he sang it for years afterwards on the Opry.

You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5yfR...


message 33: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1394 comments Great fun to listen to, Howard. Thanks so much for the link.


message 34: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
That's a great version of that song that transports you right into Louisiana while you're listening. Thanks for the link.


Wyndy | 241 comments Howard wrote: "Gay was very interested in music. In fact, he wrote magazine articles on the subject. He would have been familiar with all the versions of the song which were recorded by a number of artists.

One ..."


Thanks for the info and the link, Howard. Now all we need is some chicory coffee and a beignet. I also like this Choates version:
https://youtu.be/Uk85eUs06q4


Howard | 503 comments Wyndy wrote: "Howard wrote: "Gay was very interested in music. In fact, he wrote magazine articles on the subject. He would have been familiar with all the versions of the song which were recorded by a number of..."

Yes, I like it, too.


Wyndy | 241 comments I’m now into Book Three and wondering if Ron Rash got his idea for Serena’s rattlesnake-hunting eagle from William Gay. It seems no Southern Gothic novel is complete without some kind of poisonous snake.


message 38: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
That didn't occur to me, but I did like E.F.'s mercy toward the snake, and the reason why.


Wyndy | 241 comments Same here, Diane. Maybe E.F. is mellowing in his old age? Too soon to tell, though. I suspect events might ratchet up a notch in this final section.


message 40: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1394 comments Just finished and whoa what a stunning writer William Gay is. I will be wanting to read everything he has written. Got to gather my thoughts and write my review. Will pop over and put unfiltered thoughts in the other thread.


Candi (candih) | 208 comments I've just started this today, about 50 pages in perhaps. I'm in agreement with everyone here so far - this is excellent! My first William Gay novel too :)


Wyndy | 241 comments Lawd have mercy. I just finished. Trying to resurrect myself and write some sort of review. Thank you, Miss Scarlett, for this outstanding selection.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 124 comments I'm not as far as most of you. I'm taking my time reading this. The rich prose is something I like to savor so it takes me about an hour to read 10 pages. Gay really takes his time developing his characters and they usually have a strong connection to family and their roots.


Candi (candih) | 208 comments I'm savoring this as well. Everything is so vivid, I certainly have a picture of the surroundings as I'm reading.


Harold Norman | 22 comments Dark and fascinating. I like the characters and how they all become an integral part of the story (a little over halfway through)


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 124 comments Candi wrote: "I'm savoring this as well. Everything is so vivid, I certainly have a picture of the surroundings as I'm reading."

Yeah, it's like drinking a really good bottle of port. Better to sip than to chug.


message 47: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1394 comments Randy wrote: "Candi wrote: "I'm savoring this as well. Everything is so vivid, I certainly have a picture of the surroundings as I'm reading."

Yeah, it's like drinking a really good bottle of port. Better to si..."


Agreed, Randy. This is a book to savor.


Harold Norman | 22 comments I really like the drunk uncle character. Quite a contrast to his brothers...


message 49: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4427 comments Mod
He was one of my favorites too. Warren had some pretty good lines while he was drunk.


Candi (candih) | 208 comments I like him too! Also, as mentioned earlier, Albright provides much needed laughs! This is so good, I don't want it to end...


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