Keith Stewart’s remarkable adventures usually occur near his hometown of Hyden in the hills of southeastern Kentucky, although he can be found aimlessly wandering the streets of nearby Lexington at any given moment. Before he shed his corporate casing, he worked as a certified public accountant for a multi-national company. He now enjoys less stressful work with much less pay, and blogs and writes and stuff. Oh, and he is as happy as a clam.
After nearly ten years since the release of his last
novel, Silas House returns to the literary scene this summer with Southernmost--Algonquin Books, $26.95--a story of compassion, redemption, and a man standing up for his beliefs in the
face of turmoil.
Asher Sharp, a hell-fire and brimstone Pentecostal
preacher, and his young son, Justin, desperately fight to save their neighbors
as a catastrophic flood devastates his small Tennessee hometown. The raging
Cumberland river is literally washing away homes and businesses. Two men, engaged
to each other and themselves victims of the flood, join in to help Asher and
Justin save more people. When Asher learns the two have also lost their home to
the flood, he offers to let them stay at his house with his family.
decision sets in motion a series of not quite epiphanies, but more awakenings,
in Asher and his belief system. As his mind opens and his world becomes larger,
he soon realizes that his old way of preaching no longer works for him. Asher
immediately feels the resistance to this change in his own family as well as
his congregation. When a heart-felt, but ill-planned, sermon given by Asher is videoed and goes viral, he realizes the time for real change has come, whether he is ready
results in Asher planning what only a few months earlier would have been
unthinkable: a not-exactly-legal road trip for him and his son to Key West,
Florida. There, Asher hopes to find empathy, acceptance, and understanding for
his crisis of faith, to show his son that the world is so much more than what
he has been taught so far, and perhaps reconciliation with his older brother
who was disowned by the family years ago for being gay.
House is a master of dialogue and description. In fact, the description of driving
through Georgia on the way to Florida is so perfect—from the religious
billboards lining the interstate to the local roadside gas stations and
diners—I feel like House stole the scenes directly from my memories.
House's descriptions of Key West are perfect.
novel is lyrically written with poetic language that allows you to lose
yourself in the pages. With his fresh, progressive approach, House is changing
what a classic Southern novel looks like.
is a timeless story of faith and family, as well as a timely tale of justice,
equality, and acceptance. While this is a departure from Silas House’s other
more Appalachian themed books, it is his best work to date. He captures the
essence of the contemporary South beautifully without delving into the typical
“grit-lit” that is currently so popular with the region’s authors. In the years between novels, he has developed
into one of the South’s best and bravest storytellers. SOUTHERNMOST is proof of
Silas House's first public reading of Southernmost will be June 7th at Lexington's Brier Books at 6:00PM, located at 319 South Ashland Avenue.