The Lost Country is, at its heart, a novel about nothing. It covers a year or so in the life of Billy Edgewater — essentially a nomad — as he hitchhikes his way from town to town in s rural Appalachia, on his way to Tennessee to see his father on his deathbed. Despite the circumstances, Edgewater is in no hurry.
It all begins with a policewoman being given custody of a motorcycle. The court ruling seemed routine. But collecting the machine from the outraged parents of the former owner proves far more difficult.
By his death inWilliam Gay had racked up most of the usual signs of American literary success: prizes, glowing New York Times reviews, film adaptations and adulatory audiences on college campuses. His path to fame, though, was far from usual. Born in rural Tennessee inGay went from school into the navy, before spending decades as a labourer.
While a series of scarce flashbacks are scattered throughout the novel, they do little to paint a clear image of the emotional ties between Edgewater and his father. His mission to rejoin his father drives the story forward initially, but as the novel progresses, it is all but forgotten. Edgewater never reaches his father, and by the end of the novel his original motivation is all but forgotten.
A collection of work from the Tennessee author is out now via Dzanc Books and Chapter In a interview, I asked him what the people around his hometown of Hohenwald, Tenn. Soon after his first story appeared in The Georgia Review ina neighbor asked who was helping him write.
The Lost Countryby William Gay. Westland, Michigan: Dzanc Books, July One cannot help but wonder what the world of southern gothic literature might be like had William Gay published earlier in life.
William Gay's picaresque The Lost Country follows four people on the road: a young sailor hitchhiking to Tennessee from the West Coast, a one-armed con-man, a kid dodging the law, and an enigmatic young woman who has fled her sordid and abusive home life. Everybody's looking for something - redemption, revenge, a moment of grace - and their separate paths will eventually intersect in the town of Ackerman's Field, where these four disparate storylines will be inextricably drawn together. Another powerfully unsettling novel by the master of the southern gothic, The Lost Country confirms William Gay's reputation as one of the most talented and prolific contemporary authors - in the south and beyond. Genre: Literary Fiction.
And Edgewater justifies every pit stop joyful and tragic because he is, for once, doing the right thing: trying to be with his dying father. Gay writes realistically because he came to writing later in his life; his first book was published when he was He would then scribble the passages longhand in a notebook when he returned home from work.
Gay was born in Hohenwald, Tennessee. After returning to the States, he lived in both New York City and Chicago before returning to Lewis County, Tennesseewhere he lived from until his death. Even though he had been writing since the age of fifteen, Gay did not publish anything untilwhen two of his short stories were accepted by literary magazines.