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Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash

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PEN/PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling 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.Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling 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.

My Review

When you think of this authors writings you rekindle a great canvas dealing with memorable characters pitted into diversity with very human dilemmas, you have a great landscape as the backdrop, the characters just come alive, live, and breath off the page with his own crafted ability to spin a tale with a terrible beauty, a potent language, a prose evocative and lush, darkly poetic and a cast of characters with flaws like many humans on this earth. This collection has all these qualities mentioned in its storytelling.

You will find characters in these stories who were prisoners, young wives unhappy, men strapped for cash, gamblers trying their luck with lucky charms, fugitives on the run in the wilderness, kin loved and missed in a war effort, pals out for a hunt, characters in schooling while others cooking meth in a disused house, youngsters misbehaving, a pastor asking others to forgive after the confederate war and a radio DJ who was once a young daughter ashamed to smile.

Appalachia is the backdrop for his characters just as it is Charles Frazier’s and so was Tennessee for William Gay, Mississippi for Larry Brown, the Ozark’s Daniel Woodrell’s, Louisiana James Lee Burke’s, Texas Joe Lansdale’s, Ohio Donald Ray Pollock’s, Southern Indiana Frank Bill’s and Southern California Don Winslow’s.

This was a short story collection that one might find they will hold in high esteem in a prized position on their shelf, to take down to read often on a solemn and silent night.

A few words on some of the stories.

The Trusty
A trusty of a chain gang fetches water for the thirsty men in a near by farm.
That farm has a beautiful young woman greet him and soon they both hatch to escape from their prisons.
He has a slight of hand problem that steals from others.
Descriptive and well written, with a keen sense of place and drama.

Something Rich and Strange
Gothic tale on a woman lost to sea and a divers seeing of her in various stages of her bodies disappearance.

Where the Map Ends
After the civil war two fugitives on the run, one black the other mixed race encounter a farmer he tells of his loss in life and he gives them an important route to safety but there is one catch.
Well done story and all happening as if you are there right in the scene.

Twenty-Six Days
A couple clean for a living and during their work you are taken through their emotions and concern for their daughter who is a solider in another part of the world.
Thanksgiving approaching and they hope not to have that dreaded call informing them she has been killed or hurt.
First person narrative on a parents concern and love for the safe return of their child.

A Sort of Miracle
A few pals go out into the mountains to hunt bear.
One finds himself in a trap, an icy kind of affair.

The Dowry
The union war has gone now, a pastor ventures out to pay a visit on request to ask a colonel to give his daughter his blessing and permission to marry a man that the father wishes to try an kill again, one that had belonged to the people he fought against in the war.
The pastor asks for him to embrace forgiveness and more the New Testament message than eye for any eye of the Old.
Night Hawks

Excerpt
“Ginny slept as the sky cleared to a high, bright blue. By noon the temperature was in the forties. When her alarm clock went off at three, she lay in bed a few minutes listening to cars slosh through melting snow. She would not need a ride into work. She would drive herself across town, looking through safety glass as she passed the school where she had taught, then the hospital where her face had been stitched back together, the restaurant where she and Andrew had eaten breakfast.
At the radio station she would unlock the door, and soon enough Buddy Harper would end his broadcast and leave. She would say, This is the Night Hawk, and play “After Midnight.” Ginny would speak to people in bedrooms, to clerks drenched in the fluorescent light of convenience stores, to millworkers driving back roads home after graveyard shifts. She would speak to the drunk and sober, the godly and the godless. All the while high above where she sat, the station’s red beacon would pulse like a heart, as if giving bearings to all those in the dark adrift and alone.”

http://www.npr.org/2013/02/16/172175237/nothing-gold-stays-long-in-appalachia

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Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 28 April 2013