Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ron Rash belongs in 'pantheon of great American writers'

It thrills me when a reviewer at the New York Times can see beyond a writer's locale and read the new work as if the author were from from New Haven or Poughkeepsie. So it was last week when Patricia Wall reviewed Ron Rash's latest collection, "Something Rich and Strange." Just listen:

Ron Rash occupies an odd place in the pantheon of great American writers, and you’d better believe he belongs there. He gets rapturous reviews that don’t mean to condescend but almost always call him a Southern or Appalachian writer, and Mr. Rash has said he can hear the silent, dismissive “just” in those descriptions. He also baffles anyone who thinks that great talent ought to be accompanied by great ambition. Mr. Rash has planted himself at Western Carolina University and eluded the limelight that his work absolutely warrants.
And she goes on:

It’s time for Mr. Rash’s standing to change. And here is the book to do it: “Something Rich and Strange,” a major short-story anthology that can introduce new readers to this author’s haunting talents and reaffirm what his established following already knows. In this case, faithful readers really have an idea what to expect, because “Something Rich and Strange” incorporates two recent smaller Rash anthologies: “Burning Bright” (2010) and “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (2013). But, as with great music, it would be a mistake not to revisit this material because you’ve experienced it once.

Read the entire review


Mike said...

I think "Southern writer" is the greatest title any writer can aspire to. Where would American lit be without Twain, Poe, Faulkner, and O'Connor?

John Clark/Dialectic Voyeur said...

I think, Mike, ‘southern writer’ is a fine moniker for those of us living in this magical region, but it’s not so elsewhere. Too many people outside the South view it as a narrow and provincial category—too often a product of their slanted educational system re slavery, etc.

Faulkner and others were indeed Southern writers as you and I may apprehend but they were also universal interpreters of human nature generally and our joys and foibles in particular. This is the point I think Dannye and the reviewer are trumpeting.

So let’s celebrate Rash’s accomplishment and gifts to not only southerners but peoples of the world.