Last Friday, Macadam Cage announced that author William Gay (born in 1943), a Tennessee native and U.S. Navy veteran, had died of apparent heart failure. His short story “Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?” is one of the most powerful works of fiction I have ever read in my entire life. Period.

William Gay. b. 1943. d. 2012

The most amazing thing about William Gay is that he really didn’t start writing fiction seriously until very late (relatively) in his life. His first short story wasn’t published until 1998, when he was 55 years old. He then went on to publish five books (novels and short story collections). Macadam Cage will publish his final novel LOST COUNTRY posthumously. If you want to read that short story I mentioned above, easiest way to do it is to probably buy the Best American Short Stories from 2007 (props to Tin House for originally publishing it.)

Here’s the announcement from his publisher’s FB post:

We are heartbroken to report that our dear friend and author William Gay passed away Thursday night of an apparent heart attack. He was the author of three novels – The Long Home, Provinces of Night, and Twilight which was acclaimed by Entertainment Weekly as the best novel of 2007. He also published numerous short stories, critical articles, and essays. William was working on his latest novel Lost Country and was due to deliver the final manuscript next month. We will post more information about this remarkable person and his stellar career when the shock has eased a bit. On a personal note, I was honored to visit William on occasion at his cabin in Tennessee and these meetings were like going to church for me as we sat for hours talking books and baseball under a pall of tobacco smoke and that unique sweet smell of a house full of books. He was a genius of a man and a writer, but more so a wonderful friend. – D. Poindexter

This will be a first, but I’m going to go ahead and add “Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?” to our Must Reads.