Monday, June 22, 2015
Review of The Long Home by William Gay (Faber, 1999)
The Long Home is a literary crime tale set in rural Tennessee in the 1940s that is driven forward mainly through its character development and its sense of foreboding rather than a central hook. Gay creates a somewhat claustrophobic, menacing atmosphere amongst a poor, backwoods community, producing a strong sense of place and time. At times it seems that Gay is more interested in constructing beautiful prose than the story, with many passages feeling overwritten. Nonetheless, as the tale progresses it becomes quite gripping as the young Nathan Winer, advised by the elderly William Tell Oliver, comes of age as he tangles with Hardin, a dangerous racketeer, in pursuit of Amber Rose. The result is a thoughtful, dark, sombre read that just about manages to balance style with substance.