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Burning Bright: Stories by Ron Rash

Burning Bright: Stories (edition 2011)

by Ron Rash

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2001058,750 (4.04)15
Title:Burning Bright: Stories
Authors:Ron Rash
Info:Ecco (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction

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Burning Bright: Stories by Ron Rash




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I'm always looking for new short story collections, and several LTers recommended Ron Rash. While I can't say that he has become an instant favorite, I did appreciate these stories and will likely look for more of Rash's work in the future.

The stories are set in Appalachia, most of them in contemporary times, but one dates back to the Civil War and another, "Hard Times," to the Depression era. All of the characters struggle with poverty and the fast-changing times. A man joins a coworker in raiding Confederate graves for buckles and other artifacts that they can sell to collectors; it's the only way that he can pay his mother's hospital bill. A farmer tries to catch whoever or whatever has been stealing his eggs. A pawnbroker attempts to rid his aunt and uncle of their meth-addict son and his girlfriend. A young boy steals valuables from the dead bodies in a downed private plane to support his parents' meth habit. Rash presents these stories in a straightforward, no-nonsense, non-judgmental manner: his characters are simply living and surviving the lives they have been dealt as best they can. My only caution: don't read this is you're in the mood for something uplifting. While I empathized with most of the characters, their stories were often quite depressing. ( )
  Cariola | Jan 2, 2015 |
Spanning time from the Civil War through to the present, divided into two sections these short stories are gritty and real. All the people are going through some type of adversity, while through their own fault or just life's circumstances. Many are trying to recover something they have lost, trying to find a new path or have taken something that do not belong to them.

Rash's rendering of time and place is nothing short of astonishing. The details in these short stories make one feel that they are reading something that could be much longer, they are that complete. My favorite was the story "Back of Beyond" in which a mother refuses to give up on a son that has turned her and her husbands lives upside down, with dangerous results. This ran so true to me because often parents are blind to the foibles of their children, it's not his fault is something said by many. This story really resonated with me. Never can go wrong reading this author, his knowledge of Appalachia and its people is openly displayed in his many works. ( )
  Beamis12 | Apr 24, 2014 |
Short story capsules of poverty, choices, epiphany. ( )
  EhEh | Apr 3, 2013 |
Tight stories set in the rural poverty of Appalachia, capturing the voices, the despair, the apathy and the weak struggles to overcome. ( )
  BCbookjunky | Mar 31, 2013 |
Ron Rash’s recent collection of short stories is really just a pathway into a regional author’s writing process. As a precursor to this year’s almost novelette The Cove, Burning Bright serves as a the palette of color with which Rash has permeated the southern Blue Ridge. Although Rash has never been exceptionally light-hearted, this collection seems downright soul-crushing, focusing on death and grief and loss perhaps more-so than any novel in his repertoire. The best story in my opinion is “Into the Gorge,” where Jesse, the recessive local, returns to his family’s old plot of land, now gobbled up into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to dig up ginseng. As this man both tries to pocket some extra cash and commune with his ancestor’s geography and haunting legends, he butts up against the modern world in a tragically hopeless manner. In the end, Jesse is doomed to repeat the past of his ancestors, although the parameters of their existence are unparalleled Other stories, such as “The Ascent” or even the prelude “Hard Times” are driven by the intersections of how youth in Appalachia navigates through poverty, drugs, and absentee parenting. Of course it would be easy to draw these children out as allegories in and of themselves, which Rash may be doing, but the intimacy and dream-like diction of the narrative suggests that Rash may be indeed “Benjamin-buttoning” us all as he ages into new material. Overall, this succinct and laconic collection, although disastrous and forlorn, is a brilliant set of tragedies that reflects the troubled transition of the Blue Ridge into a privately sequestered opulent playground.


http://chisholmstream.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/a-quick-tour-of-modern-appalachia... ( )
  mattchisholm | Mar 6, 2013 |
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Jacob stood in the barn mouth and watched Edna leave the henhouse.
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Captures the eerie beauty, stark violence, and rugged character of Appalachia in a collection of stories that spans the Civil War to the present day.

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Penguin Australia

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