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High as the Horses' Bridles (Signed First Edition)

Scott Cheshire

285 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0805098216 / ISBN 13: 9780805098211
Published by Holt, 2014
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Dan Pope Books (West Hartford, CT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

New York: HENRY HOLT [2014]. First edition. First printing. Hardbound. NEW. Very Fine/Very Fine. A pristine unread copy. Defect free, smoke-free. Comes with mylar dust jacket protector. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Shipped in well padded box. You cannot find a better copy. His debut. Bookseller Inventory # jean80

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Bibliographic Details

Title: High as the Horses' Bridles (Signed First ...

Publisher: Holt

Publication Date: 2014

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition....

About this title


A Washington Post Top 50 of 2014 Fiction pick
A Wall Street Journal Book of the Year, selected by Phil Klay
Electric Literature 2014: Year of the Debut
A Largehearted Boy Favorite Novel of 2014
Slaughterhouse 90210's Most Rapturous Book of 2014
Vol. 1 Brooklyn A Year of Favorites: Jason Diamond picks

Called "powerful and unflinching" by Column McCann in The New York Times Book Review, "something of a miracle" by Ron Charles in the Washington Post, and named a must read by The Millions, Time Out, New York Magazine, and Grantland; Scott Cheshire's debut is a "great new American epic" (Philipp Meyer) about a father and son finding their way back to each other.

"Deeply Imagined"―The New York Times / "Daring and Brilliant"―Ron Charles, Washington Post / "Vivid"―Elle / "One of the finest novels you will read this year."―Flavorwire

It's 1980 at a crowded amphitheater in Queens, New York and a nervous Josiah Laudermilk, age 12, is about to step to the stage while thousands of believers wait to hear him, the boy preaching prodigy, pour forth. Suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, Josiah's nerves shake away and his words come rushing out, his whole body fills to the brim with the certainty of a strange apocalyptic vision. But is it true prophecy or just a young believer's imagination running wild? Decades later when Josiah (now Josie) is grown and has long since left the church, he returns to Queens to care for his father who, day by day, is losing his grip on reality. Barreling through the old neighborhood, memories of the past--of his childhood friend Issy, of his first love, of the mother he has yet to properly mourn--overwhelm him at every turn. When he arrives at his family's old house, he's completely unprepared for what he finds. How far back must one man journey to heal a broken bond between father and son?

In rhapsodic language steeped in the oral tradition of American evangelism, Scott Cheshire brings us under his spell. Remarkable in scale--moving from 1980 Queens, to sunny present-day California, to a tent revival in nineteenth century rural Kentucky--and shot-through with the power and danger of belief and the love that binds generations, High as the Horses' Bridles is a bold, heartbreaking debut from a big new American voice.


An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2014: Scott Cheshire's debut novel opens in Queens, New York in the '80s, where a young Josiah Laudermilk is watching his father address thousands of devout followers about the impending Armageddon--the prophecy of a cult, the proclamations of a rogue sect of the church. After the arresting opening chapter, we jump ahead to decades when the self-exiled Josiah--now Josie--has family returned to Queens to take care of his dying father. It's this complicated father-son relationship that Bridles is focused on, but the novel is very much a bigger story about overcoming failure--the failure of Josie's business, the failure of his father to be a father, the failure of basic humankind. Elegant and careful, Cheshire has penned a novel that is rooted in specific times and places, but its themes and haunting mood will resonate universally. --Kevin Nguyen

Q&A with between Author Téa Obreht, The Tiger's Wife, and Scott Cheshire

Scott Cheshire, Credit: Beowulf Sheehan Téa Obreht

I am always interested in stories that expand my awareness of life, that crack open a seemingly unfamiliar and removed emotional terrain that somehow inevitably ends up feeling very much like home. Reading Scott Cheshire’s debut, High as the Horses’ Bridles, I was stunned by the ambition of his project, the effortless way he immerses his reader in the world of evangelical Christianity through Josie Laudermilk, a former child preacher now estranged from the community of his youth. Complex, compassionate, and heartrending this is a story only Scott Cheshire can tell. I was thrilled at the opportunity to ask him some questions about his deft and rousing debut. – Téa Obreht

Téa Obreht: Scott, let me first ask you: why a child preacher? How did this story come about for you?

Scott Cheshire: Well, the easy answer is: I was one. In the religion of my youth, all young men are expected to take the stage at some point and I guess I took to it. Others don’t. And yet I haven’t been a part of that world for well over twenty years, so I think my real interest lies in how faith and a loss of faith daily effects and influences a life, how it plays out in the mind, and how those interior struggles manifest in the physical world. And I wanted to explore that in the context of a family, between a father and son so we begin with Josie as a boy, taking the stage, and we watch his long fall and fight from there on.

TO: Josie starts out as a figure of tremendous spiritual significance for his community, rocketed to hierarchical high ground he will, socially at least, never occupy again as the novel progresses. The remainder of the book is sort of a reverse hero’s journey, a lifetime of playing catch-up to a kind of normalcy that suddenly seems even more remote than the apocalypse he falsely predicts. What was it like living with this character, constructing and inhabiting his world?

SC: I’m so happy to have you describe the novel this way, as a reverse hero’s journey, because it also describes why I had such difficulty writing it. I think all novels are about desire. And yet here I was writing about a young man, a culture, really, that already has what it wants, they have God. Which of course is not to say the faithful of this book do not want for other things. We all have pain. We all have problems. We all suffer. What makes Josie such an interesting character, for me, is not that he loses faith, but that he loses hope. And those are very different things. I think Josie longs for a “normal” life and has convinced himself he doesn’t have the proper tools to build one. So his journey is one toward hope, a restoration of hope, something we all can understand. For that I found my time with him, ultimately, restorative.

TO: So much of the book relies on the size and scope of this narrative. Your exploration of the tension between love and duty, the fragility of familial bonds, is one of the finest and most nuanced I’ve read. Can you talk a little bit about the father-son relationship at the heart of High as the Horses’ Bridles?

SC: The book is kind of a circle, which was my way of trying to represent life and time as we truly experience it, a constant confluence of past and present. Josie is trying to make sense of his life while he lives it, something all of us do every day, and so he lives within the present moment but is also constantly trying square it with the past. And yet for the truly apocalyptic mind, the religiously apocalyptic mindset, time is all, but it’s linear as all things lead toward a final End. Josie is trying to disentangle himself from that perspective, while his father is utterly consumed by it, which of course makes for a very complicated relationship. I like to think the book makes a strong case for love, that love can bridge any two sides, if we let it.

TO: I’m addicted to the idea of place, and this novel is as much about a physical return as it is about emotional homecoming. New York plays a huge role in Josie’s identity. I remember hearing you read the taxi ride through Queens at one of your first appearances, and being floored by the balance you strike between epic scope and intimate detail. Since everybody has their own New York—what’s yours?

SC: I, too, am obsessed with place. It’s instrumental when it comes to identity. With regard to this book, at some point I became aware I was no longer just writing about a family, but also a particular strain in American life. And so it was important to me to build a book of cohesive but varied American spaces, New York, Southern California, and Kentucky.

I grew up in Queens, and so it felt natural to place the story there first. As far as my New York, there’s more than one. There’s the suburban New York memory of my youth, gold-toned Instagram-filtered images of Queens in the 1980’s, of cutting school and hanging out on Liberty Avenue, the smell of Tommy’s Pizzeria, the swelter, graffiti, the screech of the elevated train. But New York, for me, now, is a place of constant movement, overwhelming sensation. It’s a city that, if not for a few key places of dependable comfort and quiet—book store, cafés, parks—I would likely drown in it. The book served as like you say, as a homecoming for Josie, and for me. I fell back in love with my city.

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