David Wesley Williams

Author of "Long Gone Daddies"

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Songs of sweet evil and blue ruckus. Murder ballads, odes to ghosts. Drinking hymns.

This is a book about music, and Williams delivers it in a voice that is smooth and melodic. There is warmth in his prose, where the rhythm of snappy dialogue and fluid, well paced exposition lulls the reader into the settings—1950s roadside diners, Memphis on the brink of Elvis, the open road—all tinged with nostalgia but saturated in vibrant color. Williams has a gift for describing the sound and spirit of a particular song. For example, on describing one by Little Junior’s Blue Flames, a character drawls, “Nah, man. It starts with these guitar licks got steam coming off. Then it chugs and goes. It sounds a little country, but I don’t mean all slow and whiny like Hank Williams. Hank’s dead and buried and this is something new coming.” In one fell swoop, Williams captures a distinct sense of character while delivering an auditory description that signals that the characters are on the cusp of significant change. ... at once dreamy and wild, a churning, soul-searching trip into the root of music making. Readers will find in this novel an immersive and imaginative experience.
— Shoilee Khan, ForeWord Reviews

A book full of wild music and generous imagining. Read it slowly. You’ll love it.
— Richard Bausch, author of Something Is Out There and winner of the PEN/Malamud Award

The real treat of this novel is the language. It’s lyrical when need be, gritty when need be, funny at times, and always evocative. It’s like listening to a good country song, or some country blues, or early rockabilly. It has rhythm and melody and soul.
— Mike Argento, Book Buzz, York Daily Record

It’s as if Williams is reminding the reader that while blues, country, rhythm & blues and rock ’n’ roll music can and should be appreciated for all their redemptive qualities, let’s not forget that they’re also keys to some hellaciously good times. The same can be said for Long Gone Daddies."
— Jonathan Scott, The Oxford Eagle

... rich in character and made richer by the author's wry way with dialogue and his self-penned song lyrics scattered throughout the narrative.
— Leonard Gill, Memphis Magazine

A coming-of-age story, pilgrimage tale, and homage to the city of Memphis, the novel is narrated by young Luther Gaunt (son of John, grandson of Malcolm) with a spare lyricism that swings from sly humor to despair with the gutsy style of a great blues song.
— Maria Browning, Chapter 16

This lyrical multigenerational musicians tale marks veteran newspaperman Williams’s impressive first novel. Luther Gaunt is the young front man and lyricist for the rock-’n’-roll band Long Gone Daddies, their name derived from an early Hank Williams song. Luther comes from a family of talented but frustrated musicians. His grandfather Malcolm, “a white man [who] could sing black,” was fatally shot in a married woman’s bed, and his father, who took after his father when it came to women, stuck around just long enough to teach his son guitar chords. Inspired by his family’s colorful musical tradition, Luther views his destiny as making it big without losing his integrity and finds a willing ally when Delia Shook and her “endless legs” joins the band. A femme fatale fired with ambition, she seduces Luther, usurps control of Long Gone Daddies, and coerces Luther to write her the megahit song, “I Don’t Melt,” just in time for a transformative gig in Memphis. The historical backdrop, including a cameo by young Elvis as a busboy, adds delightful texture and rich depth to Williams’s fictional account of the early days of rock ’n’ roll.
— Publishers Weekly

All kinds of histories have been written about the music and lore of Memphis, Sun Records, and Elvis Presley. Then there’s Long Gone Daddies, a work of fiction that gets to core truths mere facts can’t convey—namely, what it is about the sound that leads a grown man to spend his life chasing it down blind alleys and back roads into countless smoky bars, juke joints, and recording studios. Guitar wrangler Luther Gaunt and his band of beautiful losers pursue their musical dreams with “a righteous fury, a fool’s joy, and bulletproof souls.” Long Gone Daddies is a highly entertaining read that’s so Southern-fried you can smell the barbecue, taste the beer, and tap your foot to the honky-tonk beat. It is a book about and for anyone who knows what it means to be a prisoner of rock-and-roll.
— Parke Puterbaugh, author of Phish: The Biography and former senior editor at Rolling Stone

Long Gone Daddies is a rich, full-bodied novel that ebbs and flows like the Mississippi into its flood plains. It is about wanting and getting what you want, but mostly it is that rare creature in fiction: an honest lie.
— Courtney Miller Santo, author of Roots of the Olive Tree

Long Gone Daddies is a story that sings. This tale of a struggling band unfolds in the places where my favorite music was born. But like a good song, it transcends the particular. It conjures Maxwell Perkins’s idea that one of the great themes in literature is a man’s pursuit of his father, and Utah Phillips’s line that ‘the past didn’t go anywhere.’
— Singer-songwriter John Gorka

Luther, Delia, and the Long Gone Daddies are on a rocking, rhythm-and-blues tear across the South, and you want to be there when the band starts playing. By turns exuberant and intimate, David Wesley Williams’s prose captures the glories, perils, and pleasures of the road—a soulful musical tour de force!
— Bland Simpson of The Red Clay Ramblers, author of Into the Sound Country

LONG GONE DADDIES is an anthem to old-style country, blues and rock-n-roll as much as it is an anthem to the muses that made it all so. The muse, in this case, is a lady, and that lady is the city of Memphis. As much as we come to know the Gaunt men and Delia, one of Williams's greatest characters may be the city itself. He writes of her streets and ghosts lovingly, knowledgeably and with a certain amount of awe and respect.
— Richard Alley, the blog Urf!

David Wesley Williams is the unagented author of the novel Long Gone Daddies (John F. Blair, March 5, 2013), the story of three generations of guitar players, set in and around Memphis. His fiction has been published by Harper Perennial's Fifty-Two Stories, The Pinch, The Common, and Night Train. He blogs about music and writing at The Soundcheck & the Fury and tweets fiction on Twitter at @damnshortstory. His favorite blues singer is Charley Patton. He is, by day, sports editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.
Long Gone Daddies wins 2014 Independent Publisher gold medal for best regional fiction (South-East Region)




Thacker Mountain Radio, Oxford, Miss.

Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

Square Books, Oxford, Miss.


Turnrow Books, Greenwood, Miss.

The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis




David Wesley Williams

Sun Studio, Memphis

Sun Studio, Memphis

Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis

Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis

Soulsville, Memphis