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As the Book Review Editor at the News & Observer of Raleigh, I had the great good fortune to work with Fred Chappell and Robert Morgan after they had already established themselves as leading Appalachian writers who were masters of almost every literary form, including short stories, poetry and the novel.
So it was with special pleasure that I witnessed one of their worthy successors emerge in 1994 when Ron Rash debuted with The Night The New Jesus Fell to Earth and Other Stories from Cliffside, North Carolina.
Ron has delivered on that promise in the years since, gracing us with a cornucopia of top-notch work, including the poetry collections (short stories), Eureka Mill (1998), Among the Believers (2000), Raising the Dead (2002) and Waking (2011); the story collections Casualties (2000), Chemistry and Other Stories (2007) and Burning Bright (2010) as well as the novels One Foot in Eden (2002), Saints at the River (2004), The World Made Straight (2006), Serena (2008) and The Cove (2012).
One sign that a writer has arrived is that his works receive wide review coverage very close to the official publication date. Ron’s new story collection, Nothing Gold Can Stay, was officially released on Feb. 13 and this Sunday he received strong reviews in the Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the News & Observer of Raleigh, where John Murawski observed that the story collection “spans about 150 years of Southern history and depicts an unvarnished Appalachia of self-mutilators, meth heads, antisocial loners, hapless lovers, fugitive slaves, wily conmen, doomed vacationers and breached calves.” Ron also received a less affirming review in the Chicago Tribune.
- Read the Poetry Foundation’s bio of Ron.
- Listen to Ron discuss Nothing Gold on NPR.
- Watch a brief video profile of Ron.
Ron Rash’s Top Ten List
1. Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1606).
2. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (1600).
3. The Iliad by Homer (ninth century b.c.e.?).
4. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866).
6. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (1936).
7. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
8. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
9. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929).
10. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (1979).