LITTLE SISTER DEATH
Dzanc Books, 224 pages, Reprint edition (18 October 2016)
Here’s your chance to feel that uncertainty again. That questioning if it just might be too late to turn the next page; you do have to get up in the morning and it is after nine…
Let me help prep you to really appreciate the atmosphere William Gay created in this, his only gothic ghost story. Surf over to Bing or your search engine of choice and look up the Bell Witch Legend, Tennessee’s very OWN ghost story and the inspiration for this one. Take in the scary, skin-crawly details, because this is a nasty one. And you’re about to jump into what Gay’s mind made of that jumping-off point.
Putting it plainly? It’s a doozy.
Oh, and this is definitely not the kind of story you want to read to your kids. Adults only here.
Remember a little book titled The Shining? Maybe it’s just me, but ever since then, when a writer takes his family off somewhere to jumpstart his writer’s block I tense up. When he takes them in search of a nasty witch tale my guts start to gurgle. David Binder is that man in search of a story and he is heading back into his past to find the legend that has been, forgive me, haunting me all his life. And this is going to be the story that gets him back on the bestseller lists.
It is quite a story. You can see why he wants to mine it for the gold barely buried there. What you see in the opening section though, makes you doubt that anyone should poke that with a stick. Violence, perversion, unanswered questions — of course, Binder thinks heading to ground zero of this horror story is going to get him the good stuff. What it quickly gets him is in over his head.
Sorry, if I tell you anymore it will spoil it for you and the last thing you want is to miss out on William Gay’s venture into an area he never took to before. His deep roots in the South serve him beautifully. The amazing way he took our language and lovingly molded it into his own unique regional art.
This is the Gay you know and then some. Just be ready for that sense of dread to pull you along to the final breathless word.
While you are relishing this discovery, listen to the truly terrifying part: just how close this book came to being a ghost itself. One man, archivist/editor Michael White, refused to let his late friend’s work vanish, wading hip deep into decades of handwritten pages, notebooks, and fragments of stories. Without his exhausting, often frustrating, work many of William Gay’s best works, including LITTLE SISTER DEATH would have been lost to time. True to form, he refuses to take any credit. Here, Michael, is a just the thinnest slice of recognition. You don’t want it but, truly, I think even Gay would say you richly derserve it. Take a bow. We promise not to look.