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Extended Audio Sample High as the Horses’ Bridles, by Scott Cheshire Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Scott Cheshire Narrator: Adam Grupper Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An urgent, electric debut novel about inheritance, belief, and a father and son divided by a dangerous prophecy

It’s 1980 at a crowded amphitheater in Queens, New York and a nervous Josiah Laudermilk, age twelve, is about to step to the stage while thousands of believers wait to hear him, the boy preaching prodigy, pour forth. Suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, Josiah’s nerves shake away and his words come rushing out, his whole body fills to the brim with the certainty of a strange apocalyptic vision. But is it true prophecy or just a young believer’s imagination running wild? Decades later when Josiah (now Josie) is grown and has long since left the church, he returns to Queens to care for his father who, day by day, is losing his grip on reality. Barreling through the old neighborhood, memories of the past—of his childhood friend Issy, of his first love, of the mother he has yet to properly mourn—overwhelm him at every turn. When he arrives at his family’s old house, he is completely unprepared for what he finds. How far back must one man journey to heal a broken bond between father and son?

In rhapsodic language steeped in the oral tradition of American evangelism, Scott Cheshire brings us under his spell. Remarkable in scale—moving from 1980 Queens, to sunny present-day California, to a tent revival in nineteenth-century rural Kentucky—and shot through with the power and danger of belief and the love that binds generations, High as the Horses’ Bridles is a bold, heartbreaking debut from a big new American voice.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An unflinching exploration of American apocalyptic yearning…It also happens to be a deep look at one of the more unsettling aspects of our national character—religion as desire. This is a rare and beautiful debut that will have readers thinking of Aleksandar Hemon, of E. L. Doctorow, of Don DeLillo.”

    Colum McCann, New York Times bestselling author of Transatlantic

  • “A great new American epic…Cheshire tackles the biggest questions of all, God, love, and death, and he does it with such style and raw psychological insight. Nothing less than Dostoyevskian.”

    Philipp Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of The Son

  • "[A] vivid, visceral tale about a son schooled in the holy fire of old-time religion who must seek bold new bonds with his evangelical father, his departed mother, his ex-wife, and his own richly transformed inner life.”


  • “It’s this complicated father-son relationship that Bridles is focused on, but the novel is very much a bigger story about overcoming failure—the failure of Josie’s business, the failure of his father to be a father, the failure of basic humankind. Elegant and careful, Cheshire has penned a novel that is rooted in specific times and places, but its themes and haunting mood will resonate universally.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “Deeply imagined…Mr. Cheshire skillfully writes about the burdens and silver linings offered by faith and other inheritances.”

    New York Times

  • “Daring and brilliant…Cheshire captures the anguish that has always driven people of faith—or no faith—toward the unbridled promise of a time when ‘there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.’ No matter what you believe, fiction writing that delivers us to a moment like that is something of a miracle.”

    Washington Post

  • “A convincing ventriloquist with an ear for all variety of language, from biblical cadence to ethnic dialect and slang, Cheshire—himself a former child preacher—transports the reader from east to west and, in the final section, deep into the past, to the crazed tent revivals of nineteenth-century Kentucky that form the basis for the world that Josie has fled. The writing is fresh and propulsive throughout.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Cheshire is a writer of undeniable talent and power. The images in his first novel, High as the Horses’ Bridles, are vivid, his language vigorous and bright, and his storytelling passionate…a fine debut novel.”

    Seattle Times

  • “The prophets of High as the Horses’ Bridles live struggling in anticipation of the Apocalypse they think they want and struggling in denial of the one they already have. In a three-book bible, written to profound and devastating purpose, Scott Cheshire counts the cost in love of inviting the end of the world.”

    Chris Adrian, author of The Children’s Hospital

  • “Scott Chesire has made the insane choice to write with nuance and intelligence about religion. High As The Horses' Bridles refuses to dismiss or lampoon the kind of people who are usually just fodder for comedy. Because of this, his debut novel is tender and enlightening, riveting and raw. The man can write but, just as importantly, he keeps his eye on the humane just as surely as the divine.”

    Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver

  • “Adam Grupper does a good job of channeling Josiah Laudermilk…Grupper injects a weary cynicism into Josie’s voice as he returns east to make peace with his father, his past, and his history. Finally, the story shifts to 1801 Kentucky, where the family’s tradition of evangelical preaching began. Grupper gives personality to the young Laudermilk and to Cotton, the man who saves him.”


  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for July 2014
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About the Author

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. He lives in New York City.