Wiley Cash: Heir to the Lee/Faulkner Mantle
OK, that's a lot to live up to, but no other writer in recent memory comes close to Wiley Cash's sort of fiction and I stand by it. Staunchly. I love this author, and I'm not alone. The New York Times and many others have given him glowing reviews, which is always nice. For me, though, when a writer's words truly touch me and linger on my mind, that's the defining thing. John Irving has always done that, among others, and now those worthies have a companion. Mr. Cash opens a window into worlds most of us do not know: Appalachia, poverty, and the struggle of human hope over the intense odds of ignorance and prejudice. They call him Southern gothic, and that's likely true, but he's a writer that can't just be defined by place. The world is his oyster.
I started with A Land More Kind than Home, his first book which I loved, moved on to This Dark Road to Mercy, and just finished The Last Ballad. His characters resonate in my mind, especially Easter Quillby, her father Wade and Ella May Wiggins, the doomed balladeer/union organizer. Cash is not just a creator of characters and plot, he is a creator of empathy for the human spirit and condition, a rare thing, especially in times like this.
If you haven't yet chanced upon Wiley Cash and his books, search. You will be well rewarded. He has a gift and it's one he's given to us, the readers of this world. I'm eagerly awaiting his next book, and you will as well, once you read any one of them.