JCU English Professor Carlos Dews Publishes Novel, Hush
Interweaving several narrative lines, Carlos Dews has fashioned a raw, suspenseful autobiographical narrative. His prose is clear and steady, one sentence after another pulling the reader forward and down deeper into many overlapping raw, eye-opening stories of human survival. Hush has a gripping, mesmerizing power that will bring you in and not let you go.
Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003) and author of The Rain in Portugal
JCU English Professor and Department Chair Carlos Dews recently published his novel, Hush, by Negative Capability Press. Set in East Texas during the last century, Hush follows four women who marry into a single family, imagining how they cleave together despite war, poverty, and prejudice, to redirect their lives, finding hope in a place and in a family determined to provide them with only misery and pain.
“The stories I recount in Hush were inspired by those I heard from the incredible women in my family with whom I spent most of my time growing up,” said Professor Dews.
Even though the stories and the characters are based on the lives of real women, Hush begins with a disclaimer that all the characters portrayed in the novel are fictional. “The lives of these women were severely limited by choices that were made for them and the narrow roles open for women at the time. But I have taken great creative liberties with the stories told to me, in many ways to provide reimagined alternatives to the lives those women actually lived. I wanted to give them futures that they couldn’t have imagined for themselves,” said Professor Dews.
The novel also explores the issue of toxic masculinity. “When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in East Texas, the inherited awful idea of what it meant to be a man, and of making sure that one always behaved properly in sync with that idea, bordered on the paranoid. The actions men took to undergird their own sense of gender security and the damage that did to those around them can perhaps be read as the subtext of Hush. According to Negative Capability Press, Hush is “a celebration of the women who, against all odds, rear men to resist the lessons of toxic masculinity, to see that there is another way to be a man.”
Born in Nacogdoches, Texas, Carlos Dews holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in American Literature (University of Minnesota) and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing (The New School). He is a leading expert in the life and work of American novelist Carson McCullers, whom he has been researching for almost thirty years. He edited McCullers’s unfinished autobiography Illumination and Night Glare, and numerous other works. Founding Director of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, Professor Dews was also the Founding President of the Carson McCullers Society, an organization of scholars dedicated to research on McCullers’s life and work. His other academic endeavors include two essay collections co-edited with Carolyn Leste Law: This Fine Place So Far From Home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class (1995) and Out in the South (2001). In fiction, he has co-authored the Novel of Secrets paranormal thriller series with crime writer S.J. Rozan (under the joint pseudonym Sam Cabot).