Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wiley Cash

Photo by Tiffany B. Davis
If you haven’t already read his books, you need to crawl out from under that rock and discover Wiley Cash.

His debut novel, A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME, was a NY Times Best Seller. His debut novel. It’s set in Appalachian North Carolina in a charismatic church where poisonous snakes are handled and an elderly woman is bitten and then left to die alone behind her house. In the book, the voices of three characters alternate: the adolescent Jess Hall, the sheriff, Clem Barefield, and the elderly Adelaide Lyle who represents “the moral conscience of the community”. The minister is a shady, ruthless and dangerous character but Jess’ mother has fallen prey to his charms.

“... Cash is ultimately interested in how unscrupulous individuals can bend decent people to their own dark ends ...”

As wrote in The Washington Post (5/8/12): “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, often by invoking the name of God. As Adelaide observes near the end of this impressive debut, ‘The living church is made of people, and it can grow sick and break just like people can.’”

I have just finished re-reading Cash’s second novel, THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, which came out in 2014 and found it every bit as compelling the second time around. Two little girls, Easter and Ruby Quillby (named by their now-dead mother for her favorite holiday and her favorite jewel) are in a foster home. Their father is a former minor league baseball player who never made it to the majors. He relinquished his parental rights years before but has suddenly reappeared and taken the girls away in the dead of night. It quickly becomes apparent that he is on the lam and some very dangerous men are after him as is the guardian ad litem for the girls. The story is told in alternating chapters by Easter Quillby, the tough, smart young girl and self-appointed protector of her younger sister; Robert Pruitt, a violent man bent on revenge for a wrong done to him by the girls’ father years before; and Brady Weller, the guardian ad litem.

In many ways, Brady is the most interesting character – a former cop, forced to resign from the force after he struck and killed a young neighbor while driving under the influence of sleeping medications, he has lost his wife, his career, his life as he knew it, and is estranged from his only child.

The book is an exploration of what it means to be a family, of fathers and children groping their way back toward each other, of forgiveness and the unforgivable.

I hope that Cash is sitting at his desk right this very minute working on his next novel. I’ll buy it the minute it’s released.

1 comment:

  1. You've got me hooked on Wiley Cash! Thanks for introducing me to him. I'm off to Amazon.....