God of River Mud
Told through alternating perspectives, God of River Mud chronicles the lives of Berna Minor, her husband, their four children, and Berna’s secret lover.
To escape a life of poverty and abuse, Berna Cannaday marries Zechariah Minor, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher, and commits herself to his faith, trying to make it her own. After Zechariah takes a church beside the Elk River in rural Clay, West Virginia, Berna falls in love with someone from their congregation—Jordan, a woman who has known since childhood that he was meant to be a man. Berna keeps her secret hidden as she struggles to be the wife and mother she believes God wants her to be. Berna and Zechariah’s children struggle as well, trying to reconcile the theology they are taught at home with the fast-changing world around them. And Jordan struggles to find a community and a life that allow him both to be safely and fully himself, as Jay, and to be loved for who he is.
As the decades and stories unfold, traditional evangelical Bible culture and the values of rural Appalachia clash against innate desires, LGBTQ identity, and gender orientation. Sympathies develop—sometimes unexpectedly—as the characters begin to reconcile their faith and their love. God of River Mud delves into the quandary of those marginalized and dehumanized within a religious patriarchy and grapples with the universal issues of identity, faith, love, and belonging.
Who Puts His Hand to the Plow
The Flesh Lusteth against the Spirit
If the Son Hath Set You Free
Better to Marry Than to Burn
Old Things Are Passed Away
And the Spirit against the Flesh
Behold All Things Are Become New
The Rod of Correction
A Prophet of the Most High
Whose Heart Is Snares and Nets
When You Pass through the Waters
They That Mourn
Ask and It Shall Be Given You
Work Out Your Own Salvation
The Spirit, and the Water, and the Blood
As a Good Soldier
If a Man Devour You
The Household of God
In Due Season
At the Voice of the Bird
Yet the Sea Is Not Full
Vic Sizemore is the author of the essay collection Goodbye, My Tribe: An Evangelical Exodus and the short story collection I Love You I’m Leaving. His writing has been published in StoryQuarterly, North American Review, Southern Humanities Review, storySouth, PANK Magazine, and many other journals.
“A story of rural queerness that captures evangelicalism’s hold and the way it contributes to the struggles that LGBTQ+ Appalachians face. These characters’ lived experiences are unlike those we often read about in urban settings, yet their collective narratives ring clear: we all deserve to be our true selves.”
Savannah Sipple, author of WWJD and Other Poems
“Utterly unique, authentic, and engrossing.”
Sandra Scofield, author of Beyond Deserving
“God of River Mud is both a love story and a powerful indictment of evangelical religion.”
Julia Franks, author of Over the Plain Houses and The Say So