E Carolyn Brown Tucker, Ph.D.
"One of the best books I've ever read...Dr. Tucker touches every element of human emotion...I actually found myself wanting to hold Kate's hand during her soulful journey through the doors of escapism...The House of Doors is a true masterpiece."
—M.T. Arnold – Best selling author, film producer, and president of FC Productions
“With no one to help her, Kate develops creative survival through a sort of suspended animation where segments of unhappy time simply disappear. House of Doors gives a rare glimpse into the seamier sides of rural culture with its twisted normalcy and open secrets. It is Kate’s story. A story of abusive assaults relayed in detached, haunting narratives. Despite a harsh beginning, Kate becomes adaptive, resilient, and transcendent. You will cringe at her sense of normalcy and celebrate her ability to overcome. Haunting in its descriptions, this book will hold you up to the surprise ending.”
—Tiffany Colter, award-winning author, editor, writing coach
“In her debut novel, House of Doors, E Carolyn Tucker, has created an irrepressible and lovable main character. Quite simply, Katie is a delight, and it's impossible not to cheer her on through her struggles. Parts of this intense book are hard to read, but Katie, and the adult Kate, maintain our interest and our compassion at every step through her healing journey past physical and sexual abuse.”
—Kathy Skaggs, author of The Poet Laureate of People Who Hate Poetry and communications specialist for the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence
“E Carolyn Tucker captures and exposes truths about rural life which many will find exceptionally compelling, and perhaps unsettling, but that is precisely why this novel must be read. Truth can and should unsettle us, perhaps provoke us into consideration of whose stories haven’t been told by our families, our communities, or ourselves. Dr. Tucker’s synthesis of storytelling and poetry is sublime, and her attention to detail is such that this native Kentuckian felt himself transported back home through the vibrant clarity of her descriptions. House of Doors echoes the voice of a writer who understands the intricacies of family, the need to make sense of the unfathomable, and ultimately it asks of us: how must one forgive the unforgivable?”
—Jody Rich, MFA candidate (Spalding University), author of Beneath Artificial Stars
House of Doors Synopsis
House of Doors is a collection of stories that play out in the sometimes rebellious, often xenophobic, and nearly always patriarchal, “Good-Old-Boy” culture of the Rural South. Written form Katie’s perspective as a child, adolescent, and adult, the stories follow her journey in coping, surviving ,and triumphing over “love’ expressed as control, manipulation, and abuse.
She begins at age three, relating her childhood in a haunting, melded narrative, so that, from her child’s voice, the reader understands more than Katie really knows how to say. As an adolescent, “Katelynn” develops strategies for dealing with painful, at times, brutal truths that continue to assault her in flashbacks and night terrors. Full of guilt and shame, she struggles to protect her handicapped sister, but she quickly disintegrates, encountering new demons—including the one she finds in the mirror. Age and wisdom lead her to new strategies (like hiding in plain sight), but a crippling depression awakens sleeping monsters until suicide seems the only out. The young adult “Kate” reached out to a therapist in hopes of reconciling the dichotomy of revelations about “love” and distorted lenses of dissociative personalities. Initially through pharmacology, therapy, and new-found faith, Kate learns how to put the pieces of her shattered “self” back together.
Read with discretion these stories about the Rural South and it most guarded secrets. Perhaps you will hear what Katie is trying to tell. Perhaps you will begin to understand that in every story or joke about “kissing cousin” and “inbred retard” there is a victim—a victim without a voice.
Note to the reader: Katie’s story is a composite story. It is based on the author’s true-life experience and on the her research as a doctoral candidate after hearing hundreds of similar stories from the ”Katies” that have “lived” similar experiences.
Door by Door Synopsis
From as early as I can remember, writing my stories was the only outlet for difficult daily traumas that were the primary focus of my existence. Toward the end of my high school career, I dared to keep a few of my more obscure poems or abstract discussions in binders that I took home and hid in our little-used, dark, unfinished basement. Single, folded pages of heartfelt anguish and angst shaped into verse. Poetry could be obscure—cloistered, and yet still acceptable—it was safe.
In later years, in private therapy, I was able to re-construct the person I had been. By re-writing the verses, I wrote and stored away long ago. By ultimately writing my history, turning it into a “based-on-memoir” book, and publishing it as the House of Doors: Surviving Love in the Rural South, I was able to re-assemble the broken pieces. I share these verses so that you might recognize someone, re-call something, relate to an emotion, or realize a truth that you’ve never permitted yourself. Perhaps the verses that saved my life might save another.
As you open each of the doors in this collection of poems, remember: I have paid dearly with the blackness I allowed to color my heart. I have, at last, accepted forgiveness and Christ’s payment for my redemption; I pray you can find your pathway to wholeness. God bless your journey through every door.
Click the play button below to hear Carolyn read one of her poems from Door by Door
The Gabardine Apotheosis