By Ron Rash
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061804113, 224pp.)
Publication Date: March 2010
Categories: Short Stories (single author)
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New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Ron Rash is "a storyteller of the highest rank" (Jeffrey Lent) and has won comparisons to John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, and Gabriel GarcÍa MÁrquez. It is rare that an author can capture the complexities of a place as though it were a person, and rarer still that one can reveal a land as dichotomous and fractious as Appalachiaa muse; a siren; a rugged, brutal landscape of exceptional beauty, promise, and sufferingwith the honesty and precision of a photograph. "If you haven't heard of the Southern writer Ron Rash, it is time you should" (The Plain Dealer).
In Burning Bright, the stories span the years from the Civil War to the present day, and Rash's historical and modern settings are sewn together in a hauntingly beautiful patchwork of suspense and myth, populated by raw and unforgettable characters mined from the landscape of Appalachia. In "Back of Beyond," a pawnshop owner who profits from the stolen goods of local meth addictsincluding his own nephewcomes to the aid of his brother and sister-in-law when they are threatened by their son. The pregnant wife of a Lincoln sympathizer alone in Confederate territory takes revenge to protect her family in "Lincolnites." And in the title story, a woman from a small town marries an outsider; when an unknown arsonist starts fires in the Smoky Mountains, her husband becomes the key suspect.
In these stories, Rash brings to light a previously unexplored territory, hidden in plain sightfirst a landscape, and then the dark yet lyrical heart and the alluringly melancholy soul of his characters and their home.
“Finely drawn stories...a collection to be read for the quality of the prose, which reflects Rash’s intimate knowledge of this region and its history. His heart is clearly in this place .”
-The Oregonian (Portland)
“These are hard stories. These are hard people. But their troubles are never anything less than compelling...Rash has a feel for Appalachia and its ways, its rough justice, its loyalties... [Rash] has written a memorable, if often brutal, elegy for a vanishing way of life.”
“Rash...is at the top of his game.”
-Time Out New York
“The skill with which [Ron Rash’s] tales are constructed is more apparent in Burning Bright... these paired down short stories make it much easier to see how expertly Mr. Rash fine-tunes his work... elegantly sophisticated work...Mr. Rash certainly knows how to rivet attention.”
-Janet Maslin, New York Times
“[Rash] is a master craftsman who pares down language to its essential elements in these starkly beautiful stories.”
“The ferally beautiful stories in Ron Rash’s BURNING BRIGHT evoke Appalachians of a Civil War past-- and a meth-blighted present-- with the haunting clarity of Walker Evans photographs.”
“Ron Rash (SERENA) delivers compelling bleakness in BURNING BRIGHT, a collection of powerful short stories set in the hardscrabble towns of Appalachia.”
-San Diego Union-Tribune
“A slender set of spare and menacing depictions of the unforgiving ways of life in rural Appalachia, Burning Bright finds a narrow sweet spot between Raymond Carver’s minimalism and William Faulkner’s Gothic.”
“Ron Rash is a writer of quiet and stunning beauty... The stories in BURNING BRIGHT are beautiful. Each story is luminescent, deeply communicative of Appalachia and perfectly framed with sentences both lyrical and grounded.”
“A finely crafted, understated collection of 12 stories....Rash writes the way the old bluegrass musicians sing: in a stark, high-lonesome voice capturing the yearning and despair of characters who have lost almost everything but their pride.”
“For the past 15 years, Ron Rash has been carving out a position as one of the best writers in America writing about Appalachia... BURNING BRIGHT is raw, honest and assured.”
-San Francisco Chronicle