By Ron Rash
Ron Rash is a poet, novelist, and O. Henry Prize--winning short story writer. His fourth novel, Serena (**** Mar/Apr 2009), set in Depression-era North Carolina, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Rash teaches at Western Carolina University.
THE STORY: From the woods and mountains of Appalachia come 14 stories that span 150 years, sometimes darkly funny but always gut-wrenching. A young couple struggles to stay together in the aftermath of the Civil War. A prisoner in a chain gang strikes up a conversation with a farmer's unhappy wife. A diver searches for the body of a drowned girl. A calf is born in the middle of the night. A married couple tries their luck at a casino to win their pickup truck back from the bank. In stories populated by the lonely and by the broken, by insiders and by outsiders, Rash crafts a world of hardship and violence, with rare moments of beauty and hope.
Ecco. 256 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 9780062202710
Charlotte Observer ****
"The same world-weary characters who pine, struggle and self-destruct in old-time mountain songs reappear in Rash's stories under literary guise. ... [All of Rash's] philosophizing about human nature would be mere academic pedantry if not for Rash's masterful storytelling." JOHN MURAWSKI
Kansas City Star ****
"These stories are chilling and masterful enough to rescue the collection from a cynicism that can, at times, seem hackneyed and cruel. ... Rash's stark, evocative prose and razor-sharp feel for the Appalachian landscape and speech rhythms make these characters come alive in scenes of terrible violence and quiet beauty." LIZ COOK
Miami Herald ****
"[Rash's] novels ... examine people made ruthless or forgiving by hard lives and harder choices. His short stories explore similar themes, and brevity never diminishes their impact." CONNIE OGLE
Minneapolis Star Tribune ****
"Being raised in a town called Boiling Springs has surely added to the author's understanding of the rough-hewn, rugged individuals who...