High as the Horses' Bridles: A Novel
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High as the Horses' Bridles: A Novel

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  108 ratings  ·  25 reviews
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 Imag...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Ron Charles
If you were raised, as I was, in a small church with intense ideals at odds with mainstream culture, you can remember that awkward pressure to stand apart from the world and, as the Bible commands, be “separate.” There’s a price to be paid for that separateness, especially during those adolescent years of desperate belonging, but there are compensatory rewards, too. Some smug atheist might imagine that the devout live in a state of bovine credence, but for me — and for many people I know — faith...more
Chris Horne
I plan to re-read Scott Cheshire's debut novel, "High As the Horses' Bridles," and re-review it too. But I was so moved by it and so engrossed in it, I decided to write something now.

Full disclosure: Scott Cheshire's agent, Carrie Howland, of Donadio & Olsen, is a friend of mine, and she's been a guest at the Crossroads Writers Conference, which I co-founded in Macon, Georgia.

She sent me the book. But when she first asked if I'd be interested, I held my breath. I was scared to death it was...more
At the age of twelve, Josiah Laudermilk testifies in front of his massive congregation in Queens, New York with the untempered belief that the apocalypse will come in the year 2000. Years later, with the apocalypse prediction behind him, recently divorced Josiah leaves his home in California to care for his father who has started to unravel after his mother’s death.

High as the Horses’ Bridles circles around faith, both its presence and absence, particularly in the face of illness and death. Desp...more
Steph Post
Stunning, bold and beautiful. This may be Cheshire’s first novel, but from the first page it is clear to readers that they are in the gentle hands of a master craftsman. The story of reluctant child prophet Josiah Laudermilk oscillates throughout time, dipping and spinning through present, past and history, creating a multi-layered portrait of the American religious experience. The narrative focuses on Josiah’s return to his ailing, mentally unstable father and their complicated relationship, bu...more
Deniz Kuypers
Recensie uit NRC 12/9/2014: Voor een land dat staat en kerk gescheiden houdt, is Amerika zeer gelovig. Toch wordt het christelijk geloof in de hedendaagse literatuur grotendeels vermeden. Vijftig jaar geleden was dat anders. Flannery O’Connor schreef in haar essay ‘Novelist and Believer’ dat de grootste strijd in het leven, en dus het voornaamste onderwerp voor schrijvers, ‘het verlies of behoud van de ziel’ is. Nog steeds zijn er genoeg schrijvers die religie in hun werk verweven – McCann, DeLi...more
An Emotionally Intense Fictional Depiction of Contemporary Fundamentalist Christian Faith

In the streetwise realism of 1980 and present-day Queens, New York, Scott Chesire's "High as the Horses' Bridles", echoes the gritty realism found in the best novels of Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin. But it is more, much more, than a very good New York City-centric novel bordering on greatness. Its universal themes of seeking love and redemption should appeal to those unfamiliar with New York City, a debut A...more
I love how this book is a first person story about a relationship between a father and son sandwiched between two very distinct third person narratives. In the first section, we jump around from character to character and by doing this, Cheshire paints the scene for us and it is a scene we need to explore because it returns again and again as we learn about what happens to the protagonist.

I was really taken with the sentences in that first section. The voice reminded me of a guy at the bar who...more
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

High as the Horses' Bridles follows the Laudermilks, a family obsessed with the end of days. At the age of twelve and already known as a talented boy preacher, their only son, Josiah, stands before his church and shares an apocalyptic vision in which he declares that the end of days will occur in the year 2000. Not long after, Josie begins to doubt the validity of his own prophecy.

This novel is an interesting look into the high hopes a...more
I received this Advance Reader Copy from the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing. I have no idea (well, okay, I have some) about why I was so captivated by this book. The writer intersperses some pretty philosophical statements into the fictional story, something that can sometimes annoy me. But every time, they so closely resembled my own philosophies that it all rang true. This book is about a boy raised in a fundamentalist cult-like church, he himself being a prophesier from a young age....more
A friend gave me this advanced reader copy based on the title and cover. She thought it would be similar to The Son by Phillip Meyer, which I loved. I can see why she suspected it of being "western," but it isn't, not one bit. I liked the story of a father/son relationship colored by the father's religious devotion to a sect that has been predicting Armageddon for 200 years, but I found parts of it problematic. There seemed to be several major continuity errors, and sometimes the story, which is...more
Tyson Strauser
Cheshire's first novel is a book I am supposed to say is excellent on artistic grounds. It has flowing poetic prose, vivid imagery, and sweeping, detailed depictions of fanatical church life in a small congregation in 1980s Queens. It is a story of a man's lost hope and his nostalgic remembering of his childhood neighborhood as he confronts his ailing father spiraling after the loss of his mother.

The book doesn't tell a coherent or complete story, though. And, it also turns the church community...more
Structurally, I'm reminded of UNDERWORLD, albeit dealing with fundamentalist Christianity, visions, and what a belief in the certainty of the apocalypse will do to one's head.
Totally engrossing. An un-sappy father/son/holy spirit relationship story that kicks off with a 12-year-old preacher predicting the end of days in a perfectly detailed Queens of 1980 (complete with milk carton kids). As interesting as that was, the story really picks up steam when the world doesn't end and the adult version of the child preacher has to come to terms with his loss of faith and complicated relationships with his father and ex-wife.

For the first time in my life I wanted a flight to...more
Debbie Maskus
The story begins with a bang and then quickly fizzles. A young boy preaches to a huge audience about the coming of the end of the world, and then the story cuts to the present and the disillusion of the now grown man. Josiah Laudermilk enters the story as a boy wonder, but returns home to care for his father as both men grapple with loss of faith. I lost my way in the story and never found the correct door to enjoy the book. I had difficulty with reading this novel, as many sentences made no sen...more
Copy received through Goodreads’ First Reads program.

Some years ago, I was sitting in a class suffering through a particularly opaque European art film when the professor leaned over to my friend and said, “I already know I’m a dumb audience member. I don’t need this movie to tell me that.” I’ve thought of that moment often when I’ve encountered difficult movies or novels like this one, and although I really enjoyed a great deal of this novel - particularly its vivid, powerful, untethered writi...more
Olivia Hi
This book struck so many chords with me, it's hard to list them all. (But I will try.)

1. The language was gorgeous. Poetic, vivid, memorable and emotional. And it just carried me along through the story and inside Josiah's life.
2. There was so much to think about in terms of family culture and what things we inherit from our parents (and their parents and on and on). How our relationships with our parents change when we realize they aren't infallible.
3. The romantic relationships were so honest...more
This is one of those books that after you finish it make you really wonder what you just read.

And for most books that's probably a negative but oddly enough it was this book's brilliance as a novel that made question this.

Looking back I'm not sure what I expected this book to be about but I'm pretty sure it wasn't this.

In all honesty it blew those expectations away.

This is a story that moves through time pretty freely. It's not linear in the perfect sense of the word. You glimpse time out of or...more
Moving from an apocalyptic style suitable to the main character's role as a child preacher in the Queens of the 1980's, the author delves gradually into a consideration of his 'designation' by his father as a child prophet, his father's domination of him, his marriage and his own new 'awakening'.

For me, the story moved slowly at first. The author, however, later engrossed me in his private 'revelations' about marital love, familial
devotion and faith. He reveals the underpinnings of the evangel...more
They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.

I found this book really fascinating but I finished it disappointed and wanting more. More history, more details about the history of the Laudermilks. The details were so striking and the language was great. I just wanted some more of the mysteries that Gil alluded to, to be unpacked for the reader. I know real life can be disappointing in...more
Fantastic read. The Book of Revelations has always been one of the most fascinating/confusing books of the Bible for me. My church doesn't focus on it and I can only imagine how my life/faith would be different if growing up, my church had. This would be a fabulous book for a book group. So much to discuss and such strong beliefs behind it. It was not a long book, but did go on a bit in places. My rating is 4.5 (rounding up.)
Fredrick Danysh
The story of a man's journey from a fundamentalist religious sect to reconciliation with his dying father. Bounces though time to chronicle events of his life. I had a little problem following the story line.
There were moments throughout this book that I really loved, but overall, it didn't hold my attention or my emotional investment.
Infamous Ginger
Very nice work of literature by a modern author. A first novel that is pretty great.
I received a copy of this book free from the Good-Reads First-Reads program. A young boy named Josiah prepares for a speech which will change his life forever. Flash forward years later he comes back to that very same small town to take care of his dying father. The memories of that day come rushing back. The special bond he and his father shared about religion and prophecy. Such a captivating tale. Keeps you reading until the end.
Jean Benedict
I was on the fence whether I liked this book .The father son relationship was really interesting. there was a lot of jumping from past to present.I won this book from first reads.I can say that this book was quite different from what I usually read. It did keep me reading and I really did start to enjoy it towards the end.
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Scott Cheshire earned his MFA from Hunter College. He is the Interview Editor at the Tottenville Review, and teaches writing at the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop. His work has been published in Slice, AGNI, Guernica and the Picador anthology The Book of Men. His first novel High as the Horses' Bridles is forthcoming from Henry Holt. He lives in New York City.
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