The Grass Sweeper God, by Doug Howery
252 pages, with a 4.9-star rating from 27 reviews
Gender confused Smiley Hanlon runs from hatred and bigotry... He returns with a vengeance... Old scores and unspeakable crimes are settled...
Being different in America has never been easy; being born different and in the wrong body in Solitude, Virginia in the 1950’s, is brutal. Smiley Hanlon lives day to day trapped in a Coal Miners town, buffeted by the Appalachian’s and generations of hate and mistrust. Any hint of being different, or being a ‘Freak’ is enough to ostracize you, pigeon hole you and make you a target for bullying – or worse. Backed by his best friend and protector, Lee Moore, Smiley made it through the days…until the night everything shattered. Chosen as the lead in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, it seemed to be the beginning to acceptance and maybe even happiness, but the world is cruel and mankind even crueler. The triumph of the play decayed into a Coal Miners version of “Carrie” culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that would change both Smiley and Lee, forever...In the autumn of 1950, his father, Ted, viciously attacks precocious, effeminate 16-year-old Smiley Hanlon. Smiley, his friend, and Protector, Lee, keep the attack a secret. Because of their sexual identity, Lee and Smiley are banished from their family in Solitude, Virginia, and find refuge in New York...
This is their story and the story of so many others who suffered under the psychology of the day that their sexual identity is a sickness...
Meet the Author
Doug Howery has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press. In many of his stories, as in "The Grass Sweeper God," Mr. Howery's true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced. Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy. His mother committed suicide in 1982, blaming her two sons' sexual identity in a letter and declaring herself a martyr for intolerance and social bigotry. She referred to her own sons as "Gutter Rats that Could Rot in Hell" and represents the hate and mistrust that have plagued society. Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers' Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery: "What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end--hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter." Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 31 years where he is at work on his next novel.