The Evening Hour

( 12 )

Overview

Most of the wealth in Dove Creek, West Virginia, is in the earth-in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life. Born and raised here, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman has sidestepped work as a miner to become an aide in a nursing home. He's got a shock of bleached blond hair and a gentle touch well suited to the job. He's also a drug dealer, reselling the prescription drugs his older patients give him to a younger crowd looking for different kinds of ...

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The Evening Hour

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Overview

Most of the wealth in Dove Creek, West Virginia, is in the earth-in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life. Born and raised here, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman has sidestepped work as a miner to become an aide in a nursing home. He's got a shock of bleached blond hair and a gentle touch well suited to the job. He's also a drug dealer, reselling the prescription drugs his older patients give him to a younger crowd looking for different kinds of escape.

In this economically depressed, shifting landscape, Cole is floundering. The mining corporation is angling to buy the Freeman family's property, and Cole's protests only feel like stalling. Although he has often dreamed of leaving, he has a sense of duty to this land, especially after the death of his grandfather. His grandfather is not the only loss: Cole's one close friend, Terry Rose, has also slipped away from him, first to marriage, then to drugs. While Cole alternately attempts romance with two troubled women, he spends most of his time with the elderly patients at the home, desperately trying to ignore the decay of everything and everyone around him. Only when a disaster befalls these mountains is Cole forced to confront his fears and, finally, take decisive action-if not to save his world, to at least save himself.

The Evening Hour marks the powerful debut of a writer who brings originality, nuance, and an incredible talent for character to an iconic American landscape in the throes of change.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in modern-day West Virginia coal country, Sickels’s debut revolves around a cast of characters whose world is pulled out from under them. Though protagonist Cole Freeman—a 27-year-old who works as an aide at a nursing home—likes the people he assists, he steals their belongings and deals the prescription drugs he buys from them. From his point of view, he’s not doing anything wrong, simply helping his patients who need money to pay their bills. Meanwhile, a coal mining company engaged in mountaintop removal poisons the landscape in an effort to force people off their land, posing a deadly threat to residents. However, families like Cole’s don’t want to move. In the words of Cole’s dying grandfather, a fire and brimstone preacher and snake handler: “Why would I want to live on land that my people never walked on?” Cole meanders through life, making on-again, off-again friendships, but he vows to change direction as the drug trade turns violent and he faces suspicion. The question becomes: is there a better life out there? Even at his worst, Cole proves well-intentioned and likable, with deep caring for others that proves refreshing, particularly when disaster strikes. Despite moments of heavy-handed foreshadowing and repetitive conversations, the novel is grounded in rich storytelling. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"A plainspoken novel, but one with intensely lyrical moments, about the devastation of the West Virginia landscapeand the devastation to the local communitiesowing to mountaintop removal... Sickels has great insight into the emotional life of West Virginians, and he refreshingly presents them as fully realized characters." Kirkus Reviews

 

"Sickels's debut revolves around a cast of characters whose world is pulled out from under them... The novel is grounded in rich storytelling." —Publishers Weekly

 

"Cole's point of view is one not often encountered in contemporary fiction. First-time novelist Sickels paints [his] experience with an unflinching hand." —Library Journal

 

"In this stark, beautiful debut, Sickels writes with gentle grace and cutting honesty about characters as wounded as the condemned land on which they live. The Evening Hour is a raw, aching book that gleams with moments of unflinching truth and unexpected tenderness, casting light into dark corners, revealing both damage and dignity. It's a stunning novel." Aryn Kyle, author of The God of Animals and Boys and Girls Like You and Me

 

“The troubled heart of the country, and the hearts of the deeply compelling people who populate it, beat strongly and unforgettably in The Evening Hour. Carter Sickels is a tremendous novelist with a tremendous story to tell in these pages, and he tells it with beauty and power.”Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Sky Below

 

The Evening Hour could be a hymn sung out in a country church; when I finished it, I wanted to close my eyes, listen to its echoes, feel the power of its song. For that is what this beautiful book is: a sweet-souled, hard-eyed prayer for a beleaguered people and the beloved landscape they call home. With striking authenticity and admirable restraint, Carter Sickels brings both forcefully to life in his deeply moving, spiritually uplifting debut.”Josh Weil, author of The New Valley

 

The Evening Hour is engrossing. It elicits strong, complicated emotions from the first page. I felt inhabited by the characters, and as the page numbers increased, I was as scared for it to end as I was to see what would happen.” Nick Reding, author of Methland

 

“A refreshing cry from the populace, Carter Sickels’s The Evening Hour captures the spirit of America’s New Feudalism. The setting is West Virginia and Heritage Coal has a monopoly: on the land, on the lives of the people who work for them, and on the families who live downhill from the toxic sludge pond. Life is hell and survival is all there is. Some have the Bible, some have booze and pills and sex, and some still dare to have a dream.” Tom Spanbauer, author of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

Library Journal
In Dove Creek, WV, 27-year-old nursing home aide Cole Freeman cares for his elderly patients but helps himself to their valuables and prescription medications. His illicit earnings allow him to support the grandparents who raised him, a snake-handling pastor and a grandmother determined not to sell out to the mining company that looms above the hollows as it breaks down the mountains. The slew of junkie friends whom Cole supplies in the parking lot of the local bar and the visits he makes to those willing to sell their painkillers round out Cole's existence. The return of his long-absent mother and a high school friend complicates Cole's world even as he considers other options, like nursing school. Some heavy-handed foreshadowing clues us in to events to come that shake Cole's world. VERDICT Isolated and economically depressed, the Appalachia portrayed here is not new, but Cole's point of view is not one often encountered in contemporary fiction. First-time novelist Sickels paints Cole's experience with an unflinching hand. Give this to fans of regional literature and authors or display along with works by the likes of Sharyn McCrumb, Dorothy Allison, Barbara Kingsolver, Carolyn Chute, and Rick Bragg.—Jennifer B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll.-Northeast Lib., TX
Kirkus Reviews
A plainspoken novel, but one with intensely lyrical moments, about the devastation of the West Virginia landscape--and the devastation to the local communities--owing to mountaintop removal. Cole Freeman is making it, but just barely. He works as an aide in a nursing home but supplements his meager income with the more lucrative trade of selling prescription drugs he either steals or buys off of the local elderly population. (In the small hollers of rural West Virginia, there's plenty of demand for escape.) Cole is to some extent a victim of his grandfather's Pentecostal religion, for this patriarch divides humanity into two types: the saved and the damned. Cole's mother, Ruby, was consigned to the latter category, as her father labeled her a slut for her unredeemable "whorish" ways. For 17 years she was absent from Cole's life but returns when Cole is 27. Cole has had an off-again/on-again relationship with the wild and tattooed Charlotte, but he's more interested in Lacy, a waitress at the Wigwam restaurant who lives an upright life and is morally committed to fight the depredations of the Heritage Coal Company, whose construction of a sludge dam threatens several of the communities along the creeks and streams. Cole's life is further complicated by the reappearance of Terry Rose, a childhood friend with whom he used to get drunk and stoned. Terry's idea of entrepreneurship is to cook meth, but this activity gets him both in trouble and in debt. Cole would like to change his life--to get out of the drug business, get a nursing degree and perhaps settle down with Lacy--but he feels tied down by circumstances that resist transformation. Sickels has great insight into the emotional life of West Virginians, and he refreshingly presents them as fully realized characters rather than as clichés or stereotypes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608195978
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 1/17/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 938,874
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Carter Sickels, a graduate of the MFA program at Pennsylvania State University, was awarded fellowships to Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the MacDowell Colony. After living for a decade in New York City, Sickels left to earn a master's degree in folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He now lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Great book

    Hard to believe you can root for someone who steals from old people and sells pills to drug addicts, put Carter Sickels pulls it off. It's a quick read with good pacing and just the right amount of detail. The story never gets bogged down or slow. I can't wait for his next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    Jonathan

    "Ok i gotta do it bfor i change my mind." He wispers

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    Selina

    Walks out crying silently and goes tp camp result one

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    Jake

    He leaves

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    loved the plot

    While I did enjoy reading this book, I absolutly hate that it is anti-coal. I live in WV, in an area that is remarkably like Dove Creek. Coal is a way of life here, just as drugs are a way of life for some. A strip mine recently closed down, and with it most likely will be our whole community. Coal is very likely powering your electricity right now!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    A powerful and imaginative story with an important message about

    A powerful and imaginative story with an important message about how lives are impacted by greed (of the mining companies). Very readable. .

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Well woven tale of modern day misery and truth! Must Read!

    If you've ever been in the mountains, really deep in the mountains and if you have seen what they (mining companies) have done you know it isn't good. Listen as Carter introduces you to those living and dying through it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012

    Excellent novel

    This story is not typical. It is well-told and extremely interesting with characters who resemble real people with all of their good and bad qualities. One questions what is "right" and "wrong" and "moral" and "immoral." Excellent!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

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