New Stories Of Beautiful, Broken Appalachia

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Appalachia now. Celebrated stories from coal country and beyond with writer Ron Rash. He joins us.

The cover of writer Ron Rash's new collection of short stories, "Something Rich and Strange." (Courtesy Harper Collins)
The cover of writer Ron Rash's new collection of short stories, "Something Rich and Strange." (Courtesy Harper Collins)

Writer Ron Rash, out of the Carolinas, knows Appalachia well.  Very well or too well, you might think after reading his latest collection of powerful short stories.  The beauty, the dreams, the moments of tenderness and grit.  The poverty, the meth, the despair, the wreckage.  Ron Rash does not deliver the clichés of Appalachian life.  He’s both deeper and more up to date than that.  He takes the particularities of this often tough life and finds the universal.  “Something Rich and Strange” is the name of his collection.  This hour On Point:  we’re talking with Appalachia’s Ron Rash.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Ron Rash, author and novelist. Author of the new collection of short stories, "Something Rich and Strange." Professor in Appalachian cultural studies at Western Carolina University.

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR Fresh Air: Set In Appalachia, This Rewarding Story Collection Is 'Rich And Strange' -- "Expect to be good for nothing for a long time after you read Ron Rash. His writing is powerful, stripped down and very still: It takes you to a land apart, psychologically and geographically, since his fiction is set in Appalachia."

New York Times: Chained to the Verities of Hunger and Heartbreak — "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."

The Guardian: Serena review – an atmophere of tragic gloom and erotic doom — "I wonder if Bier has brought a distinctively European, non-Hollywood manner to some of this. There is a scene in which Serena gets uncharacteristically sloppy drunk at a grand dinner and deliberately excites and annoys her husband by dancing with another man. This is followed by angry, jealous, complicated marital sex. There is a gamey flavour here: it doesn’t quite fit into the star brand identity Lawrence has cultivated, and this might account for the film’s relatively low profile. Then there’s the fact that her character is unsympathetic, which is still considered a mortal sin by many film producers of movies and book publishers."

Read An Excerpt From "Something Rich And Strange" By Ron Rash

This program aired on January 22, 2015.


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