Understanding Ron Rash
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication
Series Editor’s Preface
The Understanding Contemporary American Literature series was founded by the estimable Matthew J. Bruccoli (1931–2008), who envisioned these volumes as guides or companions for students as well as good nonacademic readers, a legacy that will continue as new volumes are developed to fill in gaps among the nearly one hundred series volumes published to date and to...
The initial research for this book was undertaken with the assistance of funding and released time provided by Emory & Henry College through the Henry Carter Stuart Chair in its English Department. I am grateful for that institution’s support and encouragement over the twenty-nine years (1983–2012) I taught there. I would also like to thank Jane Caldwell and Patty Greany of...
1. Understanding Ron Rash
In a brief essay, “The Importance of Place,” Ron Rash states, “one of the most interesting aspects of literature is how the most intensely regional literature is often the most universal,” and he goes on to cite the examples of William Faulkner’s Mississippi, Alice Munro’s Ontario, Gabriel García Márquez’s Colombia, and James Joyce’s...
2. The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth, Casualties, and Chemistry
To readers most familiar with Ron Rash the novelist or poet, his extensive work in short fiction over the course of his career may come as a surprise. In fact two of Rash’s initial four books, including his first, The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth (1994), and Casualties (2000), were collections of stories. Moreover his third such...
3. Eureka Mill, Among the Believers, Raising the Dead, and Waking
Early in his career, Rash received wider recognition as a poet than as a fiction writer. By the time his first novel appeared in 2002, he had already published three books of poems: Eureka Mill (1998), Among the Believers (2000), and Raising the Dead (2002), each of them given several laudatory reviews, the second with an introduction by poet Anthony Hecht praising the collection...
4. One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight
Despite the positive reviews Rash’s first five books of short stories and poetry received, it was not until his first novel, One Foot in Eden, appeared that he began to garner wider national recognition. Published in 2002, this novel was a “breakout book” for Rash. As he told interviewer Robert Birnbaum, “It got reviewed in places I had never been reviewed,” including the...
5. Serena and The Cove
Rash’s literary reputation reached new heights with the publication of Serena (2008), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and widely recognized as his finest novel to date. Reviewing the book for the New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote of its “many wonders” and its “haunting power,” while suggesting that it would “prompt instant interest” in Rash’s earlier...
6. Burning Bright and Nothing Gold Can Stay
Between 2010 and 2013, Rash published four books, two of them collections of short stories: Burning Bright (2010), which won the international Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, and Nothing Gold Can Stay (2013), which Janet Maslin in her review for the New York Times called Rash’s “best book since his 2008 Serena.”1 Like Chemistry and Other Stories, both of these...