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.
“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.”
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.
When people say that books take you places you've never been, they're talking about The Coal Tower. The Coal Tower comes to life on the page through rich and diverse characters throbbing with hopes and dreams (and a few barely struggling through) whose lives intersect on a pivotal day, Game Day in Charlottesville, VA. Gentry skillfully paints a town through several uniquely personal lenses, all players in a landscape imbued with academics, racism, and social climbing--a tumbleweed of connections that weave a story ripe with relationships that stretch and snap with love, resentment, loyalty, and betrayal. The story builds and builds. The writing is beyond imaginative and beautiful. Many stories reveal the thoughts of characters, but somehow, Gentry infuses those thoughts with a level of detail rarely seen in literature. From famed neurosurgeon Dr. Cannon, to his wife Iris, to Chloe and Lucas, Sid and Mattie, this story reveals with laser clarity the way we all see ourselves and our place in life—how we determine what we have earned and what is owed to us, what we value, and what we figure out along the way, and how sometimes, we are wrong about all of it. And the ending! Wow. I want more.