Ecco, Mar 9 2010, $22.99
This superb intense twelve story collection focuses on the people of Appalachia who though impoverished refuse to give up their pride even as they seek a shimmer of happiness. The well written stories are very short with the longest being 30 pages; yet each goes deep baring the darkness of the soul with slight flickers of light that sputter allegorically.
Opening with “Hard Times” in which a Depression Era farmer’s wife insists the impoverished neighbors’ dog is stealing their eggs; when confronted the patriarch neighbor slices the throat of his canine to prove he was not the thief. Fishing for the felon proves shockingly successful. In sixteen pages, Ron Rash provides a cast of poor people struggling with survival but doing so with pride. That theme is throughout the anthology whether it is the young turning to meth “Back of Beyond” in which a pawn shop owner knows who the addicts are as they are his best customers including his nephew. “The Ascent” focuses on a tweener who makes a family with corpses in a crashed plane he finds. Whether he centers on the Civil War with “Dead Confederates” and “Lincolnites”, the Great Depression (“Hard Times”) or the present, Mr. Nash provides his readers with a profound look at the people of Appalachia where pride and hard work battle poverty and drugs.