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A Shelter of Others

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Following his release from prison, Mason Laws returns to the mountains of his youth where his estranged wife, Lavada, has been caring for his ailing father in his absence. As Mason and Lavada set forth to recover themselves, they remain entrenched in the rural and rugged landscape that bore them and their haunted histories. This moving story tells of the families we’re bor ...more
Paperback, First, 220 pages
Published June 6th 2014 by Fiddleblack Press (first published June 1st 2014)
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Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent!!! Charles Dodd White should be called an expert in developing characters. They were flawless. They hold true to their individual natures from beginning to end. This a heavy southern novel. Some might think it was all so tragic. Parts are tragic but this quote summed it up for me. "Something would have to be built out of all this wreckage, and only a survivor was fit to build a house shaped by truth.". There is no way you can feel emotionally indifferent when reading ths book. Highly r ...more
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really can't gather the words needed to describe how good this book is. Perhaps one of the best I've ever read. The press kit that came with my ARC (book not due to be published until June 2014) described it as "A perfect read for the traveling thinker, White’s novel provides an unobtrusively sized read easily tuned for casual readers, intellectuals, academics, students and the Appalachian literary community." As great as that probably looked when the publisher wrote the description, it's gros ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
I have mixed feeling about this book.

On one hand much of the writing is poetic, with a subtle sense of tragedy, something I usually enjoy.

In this particular book, however, I felt as if the writing bordered on indulgence, occasionally getting in the way, as if more time and care was spent on the words than on the story and the characters they are meant to convey. I kept thinking of the writer's adage, kill your darlings. This book could have benefited from some mercy "killings."

Along the same lin
Charles White
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Best. Book. Ever.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the knocks on southern realist 'hick lit' is the by-the-numbers feel of much of the work. Genre characteristics give way to cliché. Authors worship at the altar of Faulkner or O'Connor. A dog-eared 1930's thesaurus inexorably sits alongside a modern permutation of an Underwood Portable. The writing is either brimming over with warmth in the oral storytelling tradition or is all but humorless, happy to follow the well-trod path of Great Stoic Writerly Men, the Melville's and McCarthys. Hom ...more
Kirk Smith
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am going to defer to my friend Josh's review on this one because his is not to be surpassed. He also said everything I had imagined saying, just not so well as he did. Please look for his.--I was interested in a reference made to Hawthorne and researched just enough to find out that Charles Dodd White does consider Hawthorne one of his strongest influences. I found an interview from 2010 to be good insight into his work.>> I also wanted to mention I got ...more
Thomas Alan Holmes
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Charles Dodd White
A Shelter of Others

In Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, Charlie Marlow explains to his companions that human company prevents us from falling into the prerogatives granted by our own worst impulses:
“with solid pavement under your feet, surrounded by kind neighbours ready to cheer you or to fall on you, stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of scandal and gallows and lunatic asylums—how can you imagine what particular region of the first ag
Rosemary Royston
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read A Shelter of Others in late spring. As a bibliophile, I appreciate the feel of a book. I read plenty of them electronically, but there are books I must own, and I knew Shelter would be one. Why? Read Lambs of Men, and you'll see how White writes in lyrical prose that makes me wish he'd publish (more) poetry. Fiddleback did a beauty of a book -- its size is perfect for holding in your hand, and the cover is smooth, not glossy. It simply feels good to touch.
I've had to let Shelter sit with
Denise Powell
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Quiet, beautiful, haunting... I started marking pages with sentences that I loved but soon realized that I was marking nearly every other page. A classic.
Taylor Brown
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
CDW does it again. Lean and mean, every sentence honed like a blade. These pages fairly gleam with polish. When you're finished, you'll be surprised the book doesn't weigh more than it does.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: w, 2014

Following his release from prison, Mason Laws returns to the mountains of his youth where his estranged wife, Lavada, has been caring for his ailing father in Mason's absence. As Mason and Lavada each set forth to recover themselves, they remain entrenched in the rural and rugged landscape that bore them and their own haunted histories. This moving story tells of the families we're born into, the families we make for ourselves, and how tightly woven are the ties that bind.

Read 3/16/15 - 3/26/15
4 Stars - Highly Recommended for the experience of the language alone
Pages: 216
Publisher: Fiddleblack
Released 2014

Can we talk about A Shelter of Others as a physical object first? And then get into the actual review? Is that cool? Because this thing is really gorgeous. The cover makes it look so old school, doesn't it? It's this grainy black and white photograph of a cemetery or burial ground, laid out against a solid black background, the only color a splash of green in th
Book Concierge
From the book jacket - Following his release from prison, Mason Laws returns to the mountains of his youth where his estranged wife, Lavada, has been caring for his ailing father in Mason’s absence. As Mason and Lavada each set forth to recover themselves, they remain entrenched in the rural and rugged landscape that bore them and their own haunted histories.

My reactions
I had read blurbs that compared White’s writing to Ron Rash’s, and I’m a fan of the latter, so was looking forward to this nov
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
need to know: Charles is a friend of mine, but I'm not puffing this book even as much as I want to.

Charles Dodd White is a master of contemporary rural life, and he shows us all that mastery and probably more that I missed on my first and second reads. Although there's the near-obligatory concentration on place (if you're Appalachian;and White does Appalachian as well as anyone alive.) where I might have wanted more character, it's really difficult to fault a novel with this seamless flow. The o
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
When Mason Lee is released from prison, he returns to his childhood woods , but not back to his estranged wife Lavada, who stayed to continue caring for his frail elderly father. This book is short, but not a quick read because of it's beautiful poetic style.Some reviewers have said there is much to be underlined, and I agree. The characters were well developed but fairly darkly drawn, making it difficult to find someone to champion. Reminded me of that old song " I need a hero" Really I did !!
Heather Newton
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This dark and surprising novel is beautifully-written, all the way down to the sentence level. The feel of it reminded me of Winters Bone.
Kevin Catalano
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Shelter of Others is an astonishing novel. Charles Dodd White transfixes us with his sentences, intoxicating the reader with a unique Appalachian syntax that both haunts and, somehow, inspires. He doesn’t so much create characters as he does scatter their seeds, see where they land and how they grow in the mountainous landscape. White stays out of their way as Lavada and her estranged husband Mason make their mistakes, as Sam, Mason’s aging father, slips into terrifying darkness, as the other ...more
S.W. Gordon
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
On a superficial level, this was a beautiful story about people helping each other in an uncertain world. Peel back a layer and we see how reliant we are on others. Peel back another layer and we see that bloodlines are not the only basis for "family" units. Keep peeling and we witness the tragic unravelling of these connections with deadly consequences. Many more messages are wrapped into this story but at the heart, I believe, is the writer's own personal conflict reflected in Sam's questionin ...more
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Shelter of Others has characteristics of epic poetry, paragraph after paragraph worthy of re-reading, demanding readers soak in the fullness of each honed passage, to connect and stay in rhythm with the story’s cadence. Where Charles Dodd White’s novel takes us is a place thick with the worrisome promise of fragmented lives threatening re-intersection with one another as characters, attached stubbornly at the spirit, meander back to each other, fearing the inevitability of reunion. White’s ch ...more
Sam Slaughter
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A stark portrait of love and dedication, passion and loss. White skillfully manipulates the language of every paragraph to give readers not only a well-wrought story that embodies the ghosts of the great Appalachian writers before him, but a tale that sets him apart from his contemporaries. If you are looking to define what it means to be an Appalachian novel, A SHELTER OF OTHERS is it. It is hard to go more than a page without being struck by the harsh beauty of Sanction County and it's environ ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is not much of a plot in my opinion to this book, but it is rife with unusual and colorful metaphors and similes that can leave the mind reeling. Like I said you could sum the entire story in a fairly short paragraph, nor does there seem to be much suspense despite three murders. I constantly had to remind myself of what time period I was in: at one point it seemed rustic and backwoodsy, then someone picked up the telephone or turned on the television or was driving a Honda. Read it for th ...more
Richda Mcnutt
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent depiction of the region and people of Appalachia - their flaws, struggles, conflicts. Not a pleasant, light read - but White renders it fluently and with a poetic quality throughout the book. This is the life and land that they know - they are rooted in the area deeply and inevitably, and will remain so - whatever the outcome. Charles Dodd White is an author after my heart and soul - one that I will follow wherever he takes me.
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
(This review also appears at the Court Street Literary Collective, LTD

Charles Dodd White’s latest novel, A Shelter of Others, is a story of regret, redemption, love, anger, and the frailty of memory. It’s about the struggle between what is expected of us, what we offer to those who need us, and what is left after. It’s also a potent tale about people who create makeshift families and improvised alliances, clumsily attempting to care for one another, nego
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
‘A Shelter of Others,’ the new novel from Charles Dodd White, is a powerful read. White’s succinct style conveys a wealth of power with every sentence.

‘A Shelter of Others’ tells the stories of Lavada Laws and Mason Laws. After a stint in prison for dealing meth, Mason Laws returns to his small town in Appalachia, ready for a new. While Mason was incarcerated, Lavada took responsibility for the care of his mentally deteriorating father. To pay the bills, she found a job as a waitress at a nearb
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great characters, a wonderful sense of place (Appalachia) and prose that is original and elegant: A Shelter of Others has a lot going for it. It is a story of thoughtful – if laconic – people, mostly down on their luck, locked into a gritty landscape and attempting to make their way in a world complicated by dark currents seemingly beyond their control. There's a lot going on here, that in the hands of a lesser writer might have become muddied and/or contrived at the end, but White manages to ma ...more
David Joy
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It would be easy to draw comparisons to Harry Crews, Ron Rash, or James Salter, but to do so would overlook a voice uniquely his own. Charles Dodd White whittles language down to its most beautiful form. His prose has been pared to poetry. Simple as that.
William Wright
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Review forthcoming at Shenandoah!
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Moments of language that are perfect because they're both surprising / fresh and yet feel inevitable or unavoidable.
Steven Froehlich
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Weak characterization.
Poorly plotted.
Tabitha Vohn
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-brow
A Shelter of Others is one part character study, two parts lyricism, one part Gothicism, one part “what the hell just happened”. It’s marketed as a story about Mason and Lavada (who are separated as a result of Mason’s prison sentence), about their lives apart and their lives converging together. However, the narrative that White gives us is so much more than that. It examines the lives of several detached, sequestered, lost people, searching for human connection, and it does so in such a way th ...more
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Fringe Fiction: A Shelter of Others by Charles Dodd White 1 7 Oct 08, 2015 05:22AM  

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Charles Dodd White is the author of four novels, including two from Swallow Press: HOW FIRE RUNS and IN THE HOUSE OF WILDERNESS. He has received the Appalachian Book of the Year Award and the Chaffin Award for his fiction. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College.

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