William Gay

This picture, shared on Facebook by Landmark Booksellers, says it all. You can see it in his face. A man from lowly means, a drywall hanger for much of his career, a man who collected sassafras root in the woods, a man who is not pretentious, a man who is genuine, who likes to talk about his seventh-grade English teacher who encouraged him to read good literature and gave him The Sound and the Fury, and his reading of and influence by writers such as Cormac McCarthy, O’Connor, Faulkner, a man who will go down in history as one of the most acclaimed Southern writers of all time.

He looks strong and confident in this picture. Like he’s saying, Read me. Know me by my works. His chin is determined. His eyes take hold of me as I look at the image and almost against character tell me, You will remember me. I will be with you always.

Landmark Booksellers — Joel and Carol Tomlin — believed in him and hosted him many times for readings, signings, and just to sit out front of the book shop and talk to thousands of people during Main Street Festival. I think I was there every time William was. I think I bought all his books from Landmark. I loved being in the cozy literary environment with all the pictures of Southern authors hanging behind the butterscotch leather sofa.

I feel the need to go back there … and gather with other writers and readers … and sit on the butterscotch sofa and matching chairs and on wooden benches between the stacks … and read aloud works by this talented author. Somehow, Landmark seems home.

Somehow, we need to go home and remember.

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