Here’s the jacket copy:
Ernest Hemingway wrote, “All stories…end in death.” With ringing lyricism, cinematic detail, and wry humor, in this diverse collection of tales Tony Gentry interrogates that notion.
A father and son share a moment of everyday epiphany on their farm. An elderly widower must choose between a circumscribed life where every breath is an effort and a saving reunion he barely trusts, while another finds solace in the company of an old bear. The ghost of a Confederate general wanders the historic precincts of modern-day Richmond, Virginia. The First Lady deposes the President. A boy finds not love but purpose in a kiss. On a canoe trip, two middle-aged brothers confront mortality and the mystery of what lies beyond. Veterans of the Korean and Viet Nam wars face their demons, seeking reasons to go on. In the longest tale here, a fall from a wheelchair tests the will of a man haunted by the car crash that severed his spine and killed his young daughter years ago. And cancer tells its own origin story, that of a real estate mogul turned megalomaniac. Keenly observed, inventive, and thought-provoking, these stories test the curtain between everyday reality and the tempting whisperings that lie beyond, in that uncanny place where our hearts and minds collide.
Short-listed for the 2019 Faulkner Society First Novel Award
What’s the story about? Here’s the jacket copy:
It’s Game Day at the University of Virginia, launching a new school year, when Charlottesville fills to bursting with incoming students, football fans and alumni. Famed neurosurgeon Rainsworth Cannon and his equestrienne wife, their goth teenaged daughter and her train-hopping boyfriend, a cop and his wayward brother, all have been living for this day. But they cannot imagine how at its end their lives will be changed and forever entwined by what goes down at the Coal Tower.
“Piling layer upon layer of life lived on game day Charlottesville-style, Tony Gentry in his debut novel brilliantly weaves multiple plot lines bent toward an uncertain and unexpected catastrophe. Displaying equal parts gusto for language and love of his singular characters, The Coal Tower brings to mind two masterpieces of the last century, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Joyce Cary’s The Horse’s Mouth.” – Randy Fertel, author of A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation
“The Coal Tower has it all: colorful characters, rapid pacing, dark humor, and an unexpectedly moving story. The author has a fond eye for the eccentricities of people, imbuing his debut novel with a basic love for humanity that makes reading it a joy. ” – Katy Munger, author of 15 mystery novels
“Like some mutant love child of Cormac McCarthy and John Kennedy Toole, The Coal Tower casts a poignant, provocative, and at times hilarious light on the fractured American landscape of today. Tony Gentry’s remarkable debut signals the arrival of an incandescent new voice.” – Paul Witcover, author of The Watchman of Eternity.
Young adult biographies: Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jesse Owens, Dizzy Gillespie, Alice Walker, and Elvis Presley. Chelsea House Publishers, New York. (Gillespie title selected for New York Public Library Best Books for Teens List 1993.)
A pair of short stories were published in Turnstile, others in Northern Virginia Review, Mad Swirl and Bottom Shelf Whiskey.
Poems in Richmond Magazine, The Quarterly, Minetta Review, Mad Swirl, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Deep South and Downtown. My poems Figments and Space Aliens Come Upon the Dictionary Page Starting with Colonel Blimpism and Ending with Colorway placed in the 2019 Poetry Society of Virginia competitions. My poems Your Peach and Mine and Immigrant Reflection placed in the 2018 Poetry Society of Virginia competitions. Immigrant Reflection also placed 2nd in the 2018 James River Writers/Shann Palmer Poetry Contest, and was featured in Richmond Magazine. My poems River Shadows and Your Peach and Mine were included in the 2019 Virginia Bards anthology.