Meet Ron Rash Feb. 25

Feb 06, 2013

Acclaimed author Ron Rash will be at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25.

Rash will read from his new book, "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

Rash is equally known for his penetrating novels and his haunting and lyrical short stories, Ron Rash is recognized as one of the most distinctive and significant American writers at work today. The 14 haunting and lyrical stories in his new collection, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," further solidify that literary reputation.

Rooted in the rugged Appalachian landscape Rash has claimed as his singular literary terrain, the stories span its history from the Civil War to the present. Lending his accustomed insight into the inner lives of those who inhabit this pocket of America, this "writer of quiet and stunning beauty" (Huffington Post) explores the yearnings, failures, foibles, and sometimes violent actions of an array of meticulously-wrought, indelibly real characters.

The collection opens with "The Trusty," a story that first appeared in The New Yorker in which a convict working on a road crew, sent to fetch water, insinuates himself with a sheltered farm wife, using her to plan his escape through the gap. That story ends in violence, as does "Where the Map Ends," when two runaway slaves escaping northward seek refuge on an isolated farm, encountering a grief-stricken, perhaps mad, farmer who displays both mercy and retribution. There is mean justice, too, in "A Servant of History," a darkly comic story in which a British folklorist suffers the consequences of an ancient feud between clans.

The outside world intruding into sequestered lives figures in many of the stories. In "The Magic Bus," set in the 1960s, a farm girl helps a hippie couple stranded by the side of the road, and the possibility of a different future that these interlopers carry with them leads to an unexpected calamity. The drowning of a teenage girl, visiting from Nebraska, will haunt the diver sent into the river to find her in "Something Rich and Strange." An anxious blue-collar couple in a liberal college town quietly wait for their soldier daughter's tour of duty to end in the "Twenty-Six Days," an inspired work of understated concision that first appeared in The Washington Post.

Central to many of the stories are characters who struggle with difficult choices spurred by hardship: A couple hope that gambling winnings will get them back on solid ground in "Cherokee."  A college boy chooses between a different future or his meth-addict high school girlfriend in "Those Who Are Dead Are Only Now Forgiven." Two petty drug-addicted thieves decide to rob an old man who gave them work when they were boys in the title story. In "The Dowry"-another Civil War-era story- a young man who fought for the Union contemplates a horrific sacrifice in order to placate the Confederate father of the girl he loves.

"Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true," says Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo, and The Washington Post has said that his short stories find "a narrow sweet spot between Raymond Carver's minimalism and William Faulkner's Gothic."

"Nothing Gold Can Stay"  is vintage Ron Rash-and a welcome addition to his masterful body of work.



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