Clay's Quiltby Silas House
That journey ends in the death of Clay's mother. It's a day that comes to haunt her only
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On a bone-chilling New Year's Day, when all the mountain roads are slick with ice, Clay's mother, Anneth, insists on leaving her husband. She packs her things, and with three-year-old Clay in tow, they inch their way toward her hometown along the treacherous mountain roads.
That journey ends in the death of Clay's mother. It's a day that comes to haunt her only son, who's left without a family and a history. This is the story of how Clay Sizemore, a coal miner in love with his town but unsure of his place within it, finds a family to call his own.
And it's the story of the people who become part of the life he shapes: Aunt Easter, always filled with a sense of foreboding and bound to her faith above all; Uncle Paul, quietly producing quilt after quilt; Dreama, beautiful and flighty; Evangeline, the untameable daughter of a famous gospel singer; and Alma, the fiddler whose song wends its way into Clay's heart. Together, they all help Clay to fashion a quilt of a life from what treasured pieces are around him.
Authentic and moving, Clay's Quilt is both the story of a young man's journey and of Appalachian people struggling to hold on to their heritage.
–The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Here is life in the hills as we enter the twenty-first century–the love of the land, the fierce loyalty to family, the church, substance abuse, and violence. . . . Silas House writes from deep within the culture and presents his world without apology or gloss.”
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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- 4 MB
Read an Excerpt
They were in a car going over Buffalo Mountain, but the man driving was not Clay's father. The man was hunched over the steering wheel, peering out the frosted window with hard, gray eyes. The muscle in his jaw never relaxed, and he seemed to have an extra, square-shaped bone on the side of his face.
"No way we'll make it without getting killed," the man said. His lips were thin and white.
"We ain't got no choice but to try now," Clay's mother,
Anneth, said. "We can't pull over and just set on the side of the road until it thaws."
Clay listened to the tires crunching through the snow and ice as they moved slowly on the winding road. It sounded as if they were driving on a highway made of broken glass. On one side of the road there rose a wall of cliffs, and on the other side was a wooden guardrail. It looked like the world dropped off after that.
They met a sharp curve and the steering wheel spun around in the man's hands. His elbows went high into the air as he tried to straighten the car. The two women in the back cried out "Oh Lord!" in unison as one was thrown atop the other to one side of the car. Anneth pressed her slender fingers deep into Clay's arms, and he wanted to scream, but then the car was righted on course. The man looked at Anneth as if it were her fault.
The women in the back had been carrying on all the way up the mountain, and now they laughed wildly at themselves for being scared. They acted like going over the crooked, ice-covered highway was the best time they had had in ages, and the man kept telling them to shut up. It seemed they lit one cigarette after another, so many that Clay couldn't tell if the mist swirling around in the cab of the car was from their smoking or their breathing.
The heater in the little car didn't work, and when one of the women hollered to the man to give it another try, the vents rattled and coughed, pushing out a chilling breeze. Clay could see his own
Meet the Author
Silas House is the author of Clay's Quilt and A Parchment of Leaves. He is the recipient of the Kentucky Book of the Year Award and the James Still Award, from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. A Parchment of Leaves was a Book Sense Top Ten pick and a citywide reader's pick in four cities. A graduate of Spalding University, with an M.F.A. in writing, House lives with his wife and two daughters in Eastern Kentucky.
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