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- Category: Book Buzz
Move Over Mountain by Spencer K. M. Brown
"In this powerful debut novel, Spencer Brown brings us the moving story of John Underwood, a man unexpectedly forced to face the most heartbreaking decision any spouse would need to make. And as we share Underwood's anxieties, despair, hopes, and regrets we share too his realization of how all the choices in our lives, made by us and for us, affect irrevocably how we shape all the lives we touch, especially as parents. Brown's writing is stunning and beautiful. It has been a long time since a novel has made me contemplate my own humanity and mortality so compellingly. Move Over Mountain will stay with you long after the final page."
—Ray Morrison, author of I Hear the Human Noise
"From the first lyrical page, Spencer Brown engages the reader in a timeless meditation on memory, love, and loss. As John waits at the bedside of his stricken wife Sylvia, he undertakes an Orphean journey into the underworld of memory, where love seems to be always dissolving into the shades. It's a portrait of a complex, wounded man, and we find ourselves like him waiting in the darkness outside a shut door, grieving our unshared guilt. There is light shining under that door, however, and the hope of understanding and reconciliation when we're prepared for it to open. Move Over Mountain will stay with you.
—Valerie Nieman, author of To the Bones
"Move Over Mountain introduces us to John, an aging man who's convinced himself he doesn't need anyone but his wife, then finds himself losing her. In captivating, lucid prose, Spencer K.M. Brown gives us a look at a profound inner journey and an ongoing struggle with faith as John reckons with his own gnarled history. Both a rage against the dying of the light and a celebration of what was once illuminated, Move Over Mountain is an elegiac meditation on loss, regret, and the enigmatic reasons we find to survive."
—Steve Mitchell, author of Cloud Diary
Written in a style of Per Peterson meets John Banville and Jesmyn Ward, Move Over Mountain is a poetic and starkly moving novel for readers who contemplate life's difficult questions and fear their simplest answers.
In the span of one winter, John Underwood, a quiet and distant sixty-eight-year old man is suddenly forced to reckon with the present moment when his wife Sylvia is rendered unconscious, hospitalized, and left lingering somewhere between life and death.
Plagued by epilepsy, John fears that, as his seizures continue, he will eventually lose all memory of his wife if she dies. Day after day, he sits at her bedside, clinging desperately onto all of the precious moments of quiet, ordinary life, hoping to make sense of what brought him to this painful moment.
As winter approaches and John refuses to let Sylvia go, he is tormented by his own gnawing conscience, urging him to reach out to his estranged daughter, Valerie. As the dark battle against his fearful heart rages on, a glimmer of hope emerges when John meets his grandson for the first time.
Set against the backdrop of the rural North Carolina mountains, Move Over Mountain tells the story of one man's fall into the grips of self-made fear and isolation, and his journey to find redemption.
Spencer K. M. Brown is the recipient of the 2016 Penelope Niven Award, the 2018 Flying South Fiction Prize, and a finalist for both the 2019 Doris Betts Fiction Prize and the 2019 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize. His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in the Scalawag, Parhelion, Empty Sink, Prime Number, Flash Fiction Magazine, and more. He lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with his wife and son. Move Over Mountain (J.New Books, 2019) is his first novel.