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One foot in Eden by Ron Rash

One foot in Eden

by Ron Rash

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One of my favorite books that I keep reading again and again. I love it for the depth of the characters, the beautiful use of language, the tension between melancholy and redemption. Also, it's a first-rate Southern gothic mystery. ( )
  bookartist | Dec 24, 2015 |
A hell raiser disappears. No one much cares except his mother. The sheriff doesn't care so much as feel compelled to learn the truth. He thinks he knows that a killing has taken place and who the killer is. But he can find no body, no evidence. The story continues for 18 years pulling the reader to an unimaginable end. In Ron Rash fine Southern writing lives on. ( )
  clue | Sep 1, 2012 |
98 Phenomenal

Ron Rash's first novel, and also probably his rawest, sets the tone for a manifestation of Appalachian literature that has become commonplace in the last decade. This narrative includes the dark histories and complex personal niches of a sheriff, farming couple, wayfaring son, and deputy as they all come to terms with their places in a community about to be buried. Rash goes beyond environmental questioning, however, tackling the intricate fears and insecurities associated with barrenness for women and the place of provision for the masculine mind. Certainly, the affirmed Appalachian tropes are present for all to marvel and chew on: the spinster widow witch up a dark, winding creek cove, the heartless modern apparatus represented by Carolina Power, or the subtle but omnipresent class tension between town sheriff and hill-dwelling land scraper. Still, the power of this book is its intimacy in exploring a landscape known for its mystery and a people that have been transformed into legend. It is a surpassingly dark and tragic novel, but it finds beauty in the small spaces where the narrative has room to breathe. Additionally, all the characters are so beautifully developed, the audience has a certain feast on what becomes a marquee of idyllic mountaineer irony. Rash has, with ONE FOOT IN EDEN composed a marvelous work, simple in structure but marvelous in its breadth.

Favorite quotes:
"I dreamed of water deep as time"-51
"But nothing is solid and permanent. Our lives are raised on the shakiest foundations. You don't need to read history books to know that. You only have to know the history of your own life."-56
"There in that field with the dirt and dew cold on our skin me and billy clinged and shivered against one another like we was caught in a flood and holding on each other to keep from getting swept away." 74
"I watched the flickering yellow flames a long ime, thinking how when you looked at fire it was like looking at moving water, both ever changing and not changing all at the same time." 77-78
"We did other things, things I'd never have reckoned to have done with Billing even in the dark. It was like I was opening up more and more to him, showing him everything there was of me, our bodies swirled together like two creeks becoming one." 96
"A woman is never more pretty than when she's bathing or so it was when I looked at Amy. A man bathes just to get dirt off him but it seems more to a woman than that. Amy bathed in a slow, easeful way like the soap and water washed away every care the day had laid on her. Then she took the tin and sloshed water over her head and her yellow hair darkened to the color of honey." 116
"There's currents that run deep in a woman, too deep for a man to touch their bottom." 118
"If this ain't nothing but a dream I'm in it with you." 143
"It wasn't long before drops of rain tapped the roof and that's the best sound ever I've known to make a body drowsy." 154
"I knew the Bible claimed no soul for an animal but I wanted to believe part of Sam somehow lived on. If it wasn't a soul like a man's maybe it was some kind of happy lingering of what it had felt to rest easy in the barn after a hard day dragging the plow." 155
"I hadn't gotten away with nothing." 159
"I was learning that leaving a place wasn't as easy as packing up and getting out. You carried part of it with you, whether you wanted to or not." 170 ( )
  mattchisholm | Jun 26, 2012 |
One Foot in Eden is Ron Rash’s first novel. The tale is told in five voices; the setting is the Jocassee Valley in the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina in the 1950s. It starts out as a murder mystery, but soon becomes much more. Characters that start out as simple farmers and law enforcement officers develop an unexpected depth. Underneath the main story is the current of people’s lives and the threat of the dam that will flood the valley.Sherriff Will Alexander believes that local thug and war veteran Holland Winchester has been murdered, but he has no body. He suspects that Billy Holcombe has committed the crime but has no proof. The crime and its aftermath are described successively by Will Alexander, Billy Holcombe’s wife Amy, Billy, his son Isaac and Deputy Bobby Murphree. The plot twists in unpredictable ways: more than once, the outcome is quite different from what the reader might expect. It is obvious from the rich descriptions and authentic dialogue that Rash is a native Appalachian: his love of the place and the people stands out.This is a tale of murder; of suspicion and superstition; of guilt and of love; of infidelity and jealousy; of choosing a path in life; of fatherhood; of attachment to place and community displacement. Beautifully written, it is a pleasure to read and hard to put down. ( )
1 vote CloggieDownunder | Mar 16, 2012 |
Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the sheriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest to the killing. ( )
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  marient | May 6, 2011 |
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One foot in Eden still, I stand
And look across the other land.
The world's great day is growing late,
Yet strange these fields that we have planted
So long with crops of love and hate.

—Edwin Muir
For Bill Koon
First words
There had been trouble in the upper part of the county at a honky-tonk called The Borderline, and Bobby had come by the house because he didn't want to go up there alone.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312423055, Paperback)

Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the sheriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest to the killing. Simply, almost elementally told through the voices of the sheriff, a local farmer, his beautiful wife, their son, and the sheriff's deputy, One Foot in Eden signals the bellwether arrival of one the most mature and distinctive voices in southern literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The year is 1951 and Holland Winchester, the local thug and a war veteran, has gone missing from his small, backwater South Carolina town. The local sheriff, Will Alexander, has a gut feeling Holland has been murdered but the sheriff can find neither the body nor the killer. He has his suspects but no evidence.… (more)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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