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Wiley Cash: A Land More Kind Than Home
Season 15 (2012)
A North Carolina native, Wiley Cash currently lives with his wife in West Virginia and teaches English and creative writing at Bethany College. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he studied fiction writing under Ernest J. Gaines and spent five long years sweating, celebrating Mardi Gras, and missing the mountains of North Carolina—a place Gaines encouraged him to write about. Cash quickly realized that in writing about home he could recreate that place no matter where he lived. Writing about North Carolina while living in Louisiana allowed him to reside in two places at once, and it was wonderful. The title of A Land More Kind than Home is taken from the closing lines of Thomas Wolfe's final novel You Can't Go Home Again.
About A Land More Kind than Home
A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is a coming-of- age drama about the bond between a boy and his autistic older brother, and the overwhelming evil they face in a small town in the Appalachian mountains.
Deep in the heart of Madison County lies Marshall, a sleepy, unassuming town that believes in protecting its own—and keeping old secrets buried. For the town's modest folk, that's the way it's always been—and always will be—a belief instilled in them by their fiery and mysterious preacher, Carson Chambliss.
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grownups. An adventurous, precocious child, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, an autistic, mute boy everyone calls "Stump." One day the boys return early from catching salamanders by the creek and decide to climb up on the rickety rain barrel beside their house—a stunt their mother has told them time and time again not to do. Stump catches a glimpse of something in the window that he shouldn't see, and the boys are separated from each other. Soon catastrophe strikes, shattering the world as they know it. If Jess has suspected that there is much about the world of adults he doesn't understand, he now knows that that knowledge is also much more dangerous and close to him than ever before.
A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is told in three resonant and evocative voices:
Adelaide Lyle: The midwife and town moral compass who straddles the divide between her devout religious faith and old-time folk remedies. Adelaide has delivered almost every baby in the town of Marshall, and feels very protective over the children she's watched grow up. So when she bears witness to a questionable act in the town's church, Adelaide vows to never set foot there again. And she doesn't. That is, until tragedy strikes again a decade later.
Jess Hall: Stump's nine-year-old brother is rapidly swept into a situation beyond his years when Stump gets torn away from him. "Jess is an outsider looking in, struggling to comprehend this world," says Executive Editor, David Highfill. "He watches the swirl of adults around him and knows intuitively that he's missing something, that something vital is being kept from him." Ultimately, Jess's overwhelming love for his brother gives him the courage to face the danger right next to him.
Clem Barefield: The local sheriff who must come to terms with his own tragic past to get to the heart of what's happened to Jess's family. Cash says he identifies most to this character "because, like the sheriff, I'm guided only by what I can perceive of this world, and am hesitant to get lost in following those who claim to be led by a spirit of the next."
Each character paints painfully honest, intimate depictions of small town life, giving readers the opportunity to relate to, and fall in love with, this story in countless ways. At once haunting and heartbreaking, A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is a rare debut—a generational tale about grace in the face of cruelty and the healing power of love—with enormous depth and layers just waiting to be unfolded.
For more information, visit Wiley Cash's website.