Category Archives: Cash, Wiley

Wiley Cash. This Dark Road to Mercy. New York: William Morrow, 2014.

dark roadEaster Quillby is twelve, but she has already made up her mind about her dad, Wade: he is the loser that her mom always said he was. Wade was a professional baseball player, a pitcher, but he never made it to the major leagues and he has drifted ever since. Robert Pruitt is an ex-ballplayer too. He’s a hard man–brought up by a sadistic dad, he’s been a drug dealer and now he’s an ex-con who works as a bouncer at the Tomcat bar just outside Gastonia. And he knows what he thinks about Wade: Wade beaned him a ballgame, disfiguring him and ending his baseball career. Wade ruined his life, and Pruitt would do anything to ruin Wade’s. Brady Weller doesn’t know what to think about Wade. Brady is the guardian ad litem for Easter and her little sister Ruby–someone assigned by the courts to watch out for their best interests after their mother died from a drug overdose.

As This Dark Road to Mercy opens, Wade reappears in Easter and Ruby’s lives. He has heard that their mother died, and he thinks that he and the girls can be a family again. But it’s not just his ex-wife’s death that has spurred Wade into action. He has a stash of money–money that he stole from the original thief. With this stake, he thinks he can start anew–with the girls, and in a new place. Wade easily spirits his daughters away from the group home where they’ve been living, but before long both Pruitt and Weller are on his trail.  The action moves from Gastonia to the coast, down to Myrtle Beach, and then on to St. Louis, where a pivotal scene takes place. At times the book reads like a road-trip novel and Easter’s occasional narration adds humor, but this is a novel about serious issues: the ties of family, the darkness of the human heart, and the hope that many people have that they can outrun their past. Cash mixes in references to North Carolina minor league baseball teams, the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race of 1998, and echoes of the 1997 armored car robbery that occurred in Gaston County, all of which clearly center his story in time and place. This Dark Road to Mercy is hard to categorize but easy to enjoy.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Cash, Wiley, Gaston, Piedmont

Wiley Cash. A Land More Kind Than Home. New York: William Morrow, 2012.

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. – Mark 16:17-18, KJV

Adelaide Lyle remembers her hometown of Marshall, North Carolina, as a harsh but beautiful place nestled deep in the mountains of Madison County. Like most folks there, Addie is a Christian, God-fearing individual. But when the charismatic pastor Carson Chambliss moves into town and opens the River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following, he changes the face of her beloved town, and she feels an ugly, cold fear root in her soul. Chambliss covers all the windows of the little church in newspaper, and it is an unspoken agreement that no one talks about what happens during his fiery sermons. But when a woman dies from snakebite, Addie finally draws a line: children should not be involved in such things. She leaves the church, holding Sunday School for the children at her home. But like the rattlers he transports so carefully in little wooden boxes, Carson Chambliss is willing to wait patiently for his enemy to make a fatal misstep.

At nine years old, Jess Hall knows that he has to take care of his big brother, the boy everyone in Marshall knows as Stump. Stump is mute, and not as quick as the other children, so Jess has to protect him. But Stump doesn’t always listen to Jess, and one day both see something they shouldn’t– something dangerous that brings Stump under the cold and calculating eye of Pastor Chambliss. When Stump is invited to a very special service just for him, Jess doesn’t want him to go, but their mother is one of Pastor Chambliss’s most ardent followers and insists he’ll be fine. What happens next changes the little town of Marshall, and Jess’s world, forever.

Told through the eyes of three very different narrators, Wiley Cash’s excellent debut novel provides a glimpse into a town caught under the thumb of a man convinced he is God. Steeped in the history and flavor of the North Carolina mountains, fans of Charles Frazier will find this tale a fulfilling read.

 A Land More Kind Than Home won the inaugural Crook’s Corner Book Prize for best debut novel set in the American South.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Cash, Wiley, Historical, Madison, Mountains