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Charles Dodd White

In the House of Wilderness
A Novel
By Charles Dodd White
Published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press
September 2018
$26.95 Hardcover Original
Reviews at: 
Chapter 16
The Observer
LEO Weekly
Rain is a young woman under the influence of a charismatic drifter named Wolf and his other “wife,” Winter. Through months of wandering homeless through the cities, small towns, and landscape of Appalachia, the trio have grown into a kind of desperate family, a family driven by exploitation and abuse. A family that Rain must escape.

When she meets Stratton Bryant, a widower living alone in an old east Tennessee farmhouse, Rain is given the chance to see a bigger world and find herself a place within it. But Wolf will not let her part easily. When he demands loyalty and obedience, the only way out is through an episode of violence that will leave everyone involved permanently damaged.

A harrowing story of choice and sacrifice, In the House of Wilderness is a novel about the modern South and how we fight through hardship and grief to find a way home.


“Novels this savage and soulful come along rarely, but In the House of Wilderness delivers both elements in spades. This book rocked me to the core. With dazzling prose and mythical characters, especially Rain, Charles Dodd White has crafted a masterpiece.”

Andrew Hilleman, author of World, Chase Me Down


“In a work that conjures the spirits of both Kent Haruf and Jim Harrison, Charles Dodd White’s In the House of Wilderness examines loyalty, exploitation, and loss in language so finely wrought that the novel eventually becomes a prose poem. Bringing together with a thriller-like intensity the themes and lyricism that have defined his early work, this book is not only beautiful, compelling, and haunting. It is necessary and important. This is what we mean when we talk about serious fiction.”

Mark Powell, author of The Sheltering and Small Treasons


“Charles Dodd White writes with grace and beauty, and In the House of Wilderness delivers with a resounding blow, as he skillfully balances that which lies beneath and that which shows its sometimes courageous and sometimes brutal face. Each sentence is a melody that carries you with care from the first word to the last.”

Michael Farris Smith, author of Desperation Road and Rivers


“Part Deliverance, part The Night of the Hunter, In the House of Wildernessincludes a vibrant and oftentimes frightening cast who redefine the notion of home and home ownership. From nomadic grifters, to grieving widowers, to runaway teens, no one’s shelter is secure, not just within four walls, but within their own skins. Charles Dodd White’s prose is gorgeous and penetrating, rich in characterizations, and nature writing at its finest.”

Marie Manilla, author of Shrapnel and The Patron Saint of Ugly