I don’t known if there are so many stories about the South because we are better storytellers or if it is because we are more conflicted or both. Maybe this Georgia highway sign in “Southernmost” sums it up:
“Just Ahead: Boiled P-Nuts Ripe GA Grown Water Meluns This Flag is Heritage, Not Hate G E T Right With G O D Ice-Cold Watermelons 5$ Jam Jelly Molaasses God Hates Fags Best Peaches 4 Miles”
Silas House is a master author who uses language in a way that is associated with the great Southern authors. Southermost is the story of a Tennessee Pentecostal preacher beset by a reckoning of faith. This book began to germinate after the devastating 2010 Middle Tennessee floods when House heard a preacher on the radio saying the flood was the wrath of God because of “accepting gays.” It was interesting to read this book in self- isolation because of COVID—19. A pandemic some of the same preachers are again calling God’s punishment.
The language in this book reminded me of the flow and language I love in the works of Eudora Welty. The Jason Isbell reference was an unexpected thrill.
“But a person can believe something so hard they lose sight of everything else.”
“You can use the Word to judge and condemn people or you can use it to love. The day I turned Luke away, I felt a deep pulsing inside of me. Sometimes I wonder if that doubt isn’t God giving us a little nudge.”
“By the time he had figured out that she had God and judgement all mixed up he had been preaching along those same lines for years.”
“Forgiveness is the easiest thing in the world. All you do is just decide to do it, and then it is done. Instantly you feel better, like pushing aside a quilt that is too heavy for sleeping. Forgetting is the hard part.”
Note: I read books blind as I like discovering the story for myself. This is why I don’t give a synopsis. I don’t want to know all about what I am about to read and I extend that consideration and curtesy to you. If you ever want to have a book discussion, please leave a comment. I love to talk books. And yoga. And horses.