Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Stories to celebrate for the beauty of their telling are found in the latest collection by noted American author Ron Rash.  There are fourteen brief tales in all and one wishes for more as with keen insight and unerring eye the author paints unforgettable word portraits.  His subjects are flawed characters capable of both violence and tenderness.  Rash’s setting is the Appalachians, where the land is rugged but beautiful as are his characters.  With the voice of a poet this author allows us to be privy not only to aspirations but also to thoughts and hearts.  Memorable reading.

“The Trusty” is the opening story and it’s a grabber as one unshackled member of a chain gang is assigned to find and fetch water.  He finds that and more in a farmer’s young wife whom he charms into eloping with him.  He schemes to take advantage of the innocent woman’s knowledge of the territory to lead him to safety.  But finds she’s not so innocent after all.

In “Cherokee” a young couple hopes to get lucky, lucky enough to win so they can pay the balance owed on their truck. Danny has heard of a young woman from Franklin who won $20,000 on a quarter slot machine.  So, “With a green rabbit’s foot clipped on his belt loop, a silver four-leaf clover dangling from his neck,” Danny and Lisa head for Harrah’s Casino.

“A Servant Of History” introduces Wilson, a naive Brit who sets out to find “ballads lost to time in Britain” still alive somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains.  What begins almost as a comic tale quickly turns dark when Wilson begins bragging about his half-forgotten Scottish ancestors to the wrong people.

Choose a favorite story from “Nothing Gold Can Stay”?  Impossible!  Each is a gem polished by Rash’s elegant minimalist prose.  As the London Times wrote, “..this is the great American short story at its best.”


- Gail Cooke

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