Most of the wealth in Dove Creek, West Virginia, is in the mountains—in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life, but little prosperity. Born here and raised by his Pentecostal grandfather, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman 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 pills of the older population to a younger crowd.
Cole’s work leads him down back roads and hollows, and into the homes of the town’s unique characters: an openly gay ex-con, an octogenarian environmentalist, and a myriad of old-timers, war veterans, shut-ins, and church-goers. As Heritage Coal razes the mountains, some choose to leave, a few fight, and most, like Cole, try to ignore the devastation. 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.
FINALIST FOR LAMBDA'S DEBUT FICTION AWARD AND PUBLISHING TRIANGLE'S EDMUND WHITE DEBUT FICTION AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE 2013 OREGON BOOK AWARD
2012 OKRA PICK FOR SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance)
"Carter Sickels is a tremendous novelist with a tremendous story to tell . . ."
-Stacey D'Erasmo, author of Wonderland
"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. . ."
-Josh Weil, author of The New Valley
"In this stark, beautiful debut, Carter Sickels writes with gentle grace and cutting honesty about characters as wounded as the condemned land on which they live. . . "
-Aryn Kyle, author of Boys And Girls Like You And Me
"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