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High as the Horses' Bridles

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  291 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
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 R
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Ron Charles
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Steph Post
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this debut novel, having read good reviews of it on its release last year, but ultimately I was left disappointed.

The book is mainly written from the point of view of recently divorced Josiah Laudermilk, a 37 year old brought up in a fundamentalist Christian household in Queens, NYC. The novel starts with a flashback to 1980, as Josiah is about to take the stage in a large community church to deliver a sermon, which turns out to be a defining moment in his life. Part 1 cover
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cheshire's debut, while not flawless, is absolutely striking. The small missteps, some unevenness with the protagonist's unfolding characterization, are dwarfed by his emotional generosity and eloquent treatment of faith. Where lesser authors might have overshot, heavy-handedly using religiosity and faith to tell the story of humanity's shortcomings, our thirst for redemption, our relentless pursuit of the Holy Other; Cheshire remains focused. Though the Laudermilk family reveals plenty about th ...more
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
Tyson Strauser
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: leisure
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
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2014
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.
Deniz Kuypers
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
For a secular country, America is exceedingly religious. Yet, religious beliefs are largely absent from contemporary fiction. Fifty years ago, Flannery O’Connor, in her essay “Novelist and Believer,” wrote that the biggest struggle in life, and therefore the prime topic for writers, was “the salvation or loss of the soul.” Plenty of writers nowadays weave religion into their work – McCann, DeLillo, Eugenides – but more often than not for decorative purposes only; contemporary plots rarely involv ...more
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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Scott Cheshire is the author of High as the Horses' Bridles (Henry Holt). His work has been published in AGNI, Electric Literature, Guernica, Harper’s, One Story, Slice, and the Picador Book of Men. He lives in New York City.
More about Scott Cheshire...