The World Made Straight
By Ron Rash
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805078664, 304pp.)
Publication Date: April 4, 2006
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In an Appalachian community haunted by the legacy of a Civil War massacre, a rebellious young man struggles to escape the violence that would bind him to the past
Travis Shelton is seventeen the summer he wanders onto a neighbor's property in the woods, discovers a crop of marijuana large enough to make him some serious money, and steps into the jaws of a bear trap. After hours of passing in and out of consciousness, Travis is discovered by Carlton Toomey, the wise and vicious farmer who set the trap to protect his plants, and Travis's confrontation with the subtle evils within his rural world has begun.
Before long, Travis has moved out of his parents' home to live with Leonard Shuler, a one-time schoolteacher who lost his job and custody of his daughter years ago, when he was framed by a vindictive student. Now Leonard lives with his dogs and his sometime girlfriend in a run-down trailer outside town, deals a few drugs, and studies journals from the Civil War. Travis becomes his student, of sorts, and the fate of these two outsiders becomes increasingly entwined as the community's terrible past and corrupt present bear down on each of them from every direction, leading to a violent reckoning--not only with Carlton, but with the legacy of the Civil War massacre that, even after a century, continues to divide an Appalachian community.
Vivid, harrowing, yet ultimately hopeful, The World Made Straight offers a powerful exploration of the painful conflict between the bonds of home and the desire for independence.
Ron Rash is the author of the prizewinning novels One Foot in Eden
(0-312-42305-5) and Saints at the River (0-312-42491-4), as well as three collections of poetry and two of short stories. He is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize and the James Still Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. For Saints at the River he received the 2004 Weatherford Award for Best Novel and the 2005 SEBA Best Book Award for Fiction. Rash holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University and lives in Clemson, South Carolina.