KimberlyB, February 1, 2014 (view all comments by KimberlyB)
I was initially drawn to this book, because I'm fascinated by the fine line between being religious or just plain crazy. A Land More Kind Than Home focuses on the goings on in a snake charming church, which a lot of people would deem as crazy, in backwoods Appalachia. Carson Chambliss, the pastor of the church, could aptly be described as a false prophet. The tragedies that take place in the novel are all directly or indirectly related to the fact that parishioners follow Chambliss as though he is speaking the word of God and not serving his own self-interest. But, does Chambliss see himself as divine, or does he know that he isn't entirely holy? That's where lines start to become less clear.
Cash gives you A LOT to consider in this book. The discussion questions at the back of my edition are thought-provoking and deep. This is a book that will stick with me for a long time. Here is my favorite passage, the prologue, from Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again:
Something has spoken to me in the night...
and told me I shall die, I know not where.
"[Death is] to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing;
to lose the life you have, for greater life;
to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving;
to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth."
It's a beautiful passage to start a rich, atmospheric story with a lot of depth. I'll definitely be reading more of Cash's work. This is the sort of story that becomes a modern day classic.
amir, March 12, 2013 (view all comments by amir)
I really love this book. It grabs the reader by the throat from page one and does not let go! It is different from anything I have ever read, and I like that. It is beautifully written; the characters rise up from the page and come alive. The author has crafted the diction and dialogue with such precision the the prose sings. One of the best books I have read in a very long time, and I found myself thinking about this book weeks after reading it.
I am greatly anticipating Wiley Cash's next book.
JASH, January 8, 2013 (view all comments by JASH)
Buy this book. Read this book. Not only is it a powerful story, the writing is exquisite. Told by three narrators, a middle aged man, a young boy, and an older woman, the story explores how a dark secret burrows deep in a community.
William Morrow Paperbacks -
by New York Times Book Review,
“Mesmerizing...only Jess knows why his autistic older brother died on the very day he was taken into the church, and its his voice that we carry away from this intensely felt and beautifully told story.”
by Washington Post,
“Cash adeptly captures the rhythms of Appalachian speech, narrating his atmospheric novel in the voices of three characters....The story has elements of a thriller, but Cash is ultimately interested in how unscrupulous individuals can bend decent people to their own dark ends.”
by Entertainment Weekly,
“Absorbing...Cash uses well-placed flashbacks to flesh out his characters...and to illuminate a familiar truth of Southern lit: Many are the ways that fathers fail their sons.”
by John Lawton, author of A Lily of the Field,
"Wiley Cash makes his debut with this fine, engaging novel, proving yet again that the South is an inexhaustible motherlode of literature. I'm sure he'll garner comparisons to Harper Lee, perhaps even to Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor, but Wiley Cash is Wiley Cash — a new, strong Southern voice in American fiction."
by Library Journal (starred review),
“As lyrical, beautiful, and uncomplicated as the classic ballads of Appalachia, Cash's first novel is a tragic story of misplaced faith and love gone wrong....In a style reminiscent of Tom Franklin and John Hart, Cash captures the readers imagination.”
by Clyde Edgerton, author of The Night Train,
“This book will knock your socks off. Its so good to read a first novel that sings with talent. Wiley Cash has a beautifully written hit on his hands.”
by Bobbie Ann Mason, author of In Country,
“A riveting story! The writing is bold, daring, graceful, and engrossing.”
by Fred Chappell, author of Brighten the Corner Where You Are,
“I try to state the truth and dislike flinging superlatives about with mad abandon, but I have been so deeply impressed by this novel that only superlatives can convey the tenor of my thought: this is one of the most powerful novels I have ever read.”
by Nancy Peacock, author of Life Without Water,
"Whew! Wiley Cash is the real deal and his first novel is an atmospheric crossroads filled with characters who long for better, but know that their best will never be good enough, is dense with stories intersecting like the branches in a laurel hell."
by Rikki Ducornet, author of The Fan Maker's Inquisition,
"Cinematic and symphonic: this is a compelling story revealed in a sequence of voices that are as pitch-perfect as they are irresistible. This is a wonderfully impressive debut: tender, muscled and unforgettable."
by Gail Godwin, author of Evensong,
“This novel has great cumulative power. Before I knew it I was grabbed by the ankle and pulled down into a full-blown Greek tragedy.”
by Ernest J. Gaines , author of A Lesson Before Dying,
“The first thing that struck me about Wileys novel is the beautiful prose: the narrative is strong, clean, direct and economical....I think this could be the beginning of a long, fruitful career.”
by Kirkus Reviews,
“Cash's debut novel explores Faulkner-O'Connor country....As lean and spare as a mountain ballad, Cash's novel resonates perfectly, so much so that it could easily have been expanded to epic proportions. An evocative work about love, fate and redemption.”
by Publishers Weekly,
"A chilling descent into the world of religious frenzy in small town North Carolina....The languid atmosphere seduces, and Cash's fine first effort pulls the reader into a shadowy, tormented world where wolves prowl in the guise of sheep."
by Richmond Times-Dispatch,
“A Land More Kind Than Home is a powerfully moving debut that reads as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird.”
by The Daily Beast,
"Cash's debut about a town gripped by a menacing preacher has the timeless qualities of the Old Testament...[a] very good book."
by Florida Sun-Sentinel,
“A lyrical, poignant debut....In the mode of John Hart, Tom Franklin, and early Pat Conroy, A Land More Kind Than Home explores the power of forgiveness [and] the strength of family bonds.”
"Good old-fashioned storytelling....With murder, religion, infidelity, domestic abuse, guns, whiskey and snake handling, Land is rich in unstable relationships and beautiful tragedy."
by Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
“Wiley Cash's novel embeds a tender coming-of-age story within a suspense-filled thriller....[A] clear-sighted, graceful debut.”
“So beautifully written that you'll be torn about how fast to read it. This is great, gothic Southern fiction.”
by Harper Collins,
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when you get caught spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to — an act that will have repercussions. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared. He now knows that a new understanding can bring not only danger and evil — but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance.
Told by resonant and evocative characters, A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.
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