PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times best-selling author Ron Rash turns again to Appalachia to capture lives haunted by violence and tenderness, hope and fear, in unforgettable stories that span from the Civil War to the present day.
In the title story, two drug-addicted friends return to the farm where they worked as boys to steal their former boss' gruesomely unusual war trophies. In "The Trusty", which first appeared in The New Yorker, a prisoner sent to fetch water for his chain gang tries to sweet-talk a farmer's young wife into helping him escape, only to find that she is as trapped as he is. In "Something Rich and Strange", a diver is called upon to pull a drowned girl's body free from under a falls, but he finds her eerily at peace below the surface.
The violence of Rash's characters and their raw settings are matched only by their resonance and stark beauty, a masterful combination that has earned Rash an avalanche of praise.
©2013 Ron Rash (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
The title pays homage to Robert Frost and each story has a reference to gold therein. Characters from all age ranges tied to the Appalachian landscape fill this raw, real collection of tragic short stories. Trapped physically or mentally, each person navigates their ineffectual circumstances in hopes of reaching for sunlight only to realize the futility of their dreams. For example, in "Cherokee", a man and wife win big at a casino only to realize their victory is fleeting. I don't want to give away anymore details so you can enjoy each story as you go.
Rash is a master story teller placing you in the middle of each story, connecting quickly with the characters, standing in their rough landscape, and facing the consequences of their choices some ending with dark consequences.
Don't forget to press pause after each story; the next one begins quickly and you'll want to mull over the details from the last.
If you enjoyed this, check out "The Cove," and "Serena," also by Rash and "Winter's Bone," by Danny Woodrell.
I'm on the fourth story and looking forward to an uplifting one. I don't think I'll get it, but I can't help but listen on to characters in the real / surreal life. Well written and well narrated. nuff said!
Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!
One of the finest!
I've never listened to a book of short stories before, and with multiple narrators, it feels more like theatre (with imagination filling in the visual).
I feel so humble in the face of this work--a truly amazing collection of words and human insights--to try to use mere words to praise it. Whatever I can say feels inadequate to express the excellence of this book of stories. It has been a remarkable experience to listen to it.
This is a collection of stories, taking place in Appalachia, drawing word pictures of the inner minds and souls of people facing challenges, often with life or death consequences before them. This is a work I wish I could process with a book club, because almost every word is poetic, metaphors for the desperate choices being faced. I wish I could sit with the author and hear his imaginings about this work. I would love to lace this review with some of my own thoughts and feelings about some of the passages that are so moving I want to listen again and again to get the full impact, but that seems a bit out of place in a review. I can say that the author has wonderful insights into human desires, the creation of meaning they make of situations in which they find themselves, and the ends they will go to to achieve their fantasized goals.
For instance, In one story, a character wants to stand in "two states at one time," foreshadowing her transition from life to death, but also the transition of the diver from a more shallow life as a biology teacher (still theme of life) to someone who has glimpsed death in a new way which has deepened his own existence.
I think this is an amazing work, read by narrators that bring the author's words to life in a manner that left me feeling just inside the minds of the characters. Highly recommend!
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