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Twilight / William Gay

thTwilightCover.jpgMacAdam Cage / September 2007
Reviewed by: Blu Gilliand

Twilight opens with Kenneth and Corrie Tyler, brother and sister, as they sneak through a cemetery after dark digging up graves. That the two turn out to be the heroes of William Gay’s Southern Gothic tour-de-force is a good sign that the story getting ready to unfold will keep the reader continuously off-balance.

The Tylers are engaging in their unsavory nighttime excursions in an effort to prove that local undertaker Fenton Breece has been engaging in some unsavory practices of his own. And while here’s plenty wrong in the graves they unearth, it’s a briefcase full of photos, fortuitously lifted from the trunk of Breece’s own car, which shows just how depraved the man has become.

When Breece is confronted with what the Tylers have, and what they plan to do with it, he turns to one Granville Sutter, a relentless, remorseless engine fueled by greed and hate. Sutter’s lunacy is legend in and around the town – a legend that the convicted murderer has no trouble living up to.

What follow is a manic road trip set against a twisted Southern landscape full of warped and eccentric characters. Tyler’s literal run through the jungle brings him in contact with an assortment of tough, proud and stubborn people, most of who are living off their wits and the land and little else. Unfortunately for them, wherever Tyler goes, Sutter is not far behind.

As the novel progresses, Granville Sutter becomes less a man and more a force of nature, a wildfire burning through every obstacle between him and his quarry. Sutter is Gay’s smart, literary take on the classic horror film slasher – he’s Michael Myers’ single-minded pursuit given motivation and a cold, calculating intelligence.

Gay’s influences resonate on every page, especially in the stark prose and aversion to quotation marks he shares with Cormac McCarthy. But where McCarthy sometimes provides simple sketches of characters on which readers hang their own impressions, Gay’s people are fully-drawn, well-rounded portraits of love, obsession and madness.

Twilight moves at a lightning-quick pace, but it’s a richly satisfying book. It’s a horror novel of the most terrifying kind, one that is entrenched in the real madness that hides behind the eyes and doors of people we see every day. Highly recommended.

Purchase William Gay’s Twilight.

Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 09:30AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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