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Another Gritty Rustic Read!

As I finished Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell this month, I found myself wanting more.  I wanted more stories drenched in the language and feel of the backwoods country that Woodrell paints such a clear portrait of.  In my search, I stumbled upon Burning Bright by Ron Rash.  This collection of short stories features a cast of trailer-dwellers, struggling farmers, and sunken eyed townspeople who are haunted by poverty and addiction to crystal meth.  Rash writes, “When Parson drove to his shop that morning, the sky was the color of lead.  Flurries settled on the pickup’s windshield, lingered a moment before expiring.  A heavy snow tonight, the weatherman warned, and it looked to be certain, everything getting quiet and still, waiting…It would be a profitable day, because Parson knew they’d come to his pawnshop to barter before emptying every cold-remedy shelf in town.”  While these are not particularly happy stories, Rash still provides notes of hope and persistence throughout the underlying despair.  These tales could become overwhelming and almost unreadable at times, but Rash presents them in such a delicate balance and language that it sucks the reader into this deep, painful and oddly redemptive land.  Winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story award in 2010,   Burning Bright provides a set of tales that range from depression-era Appalachia to modern day. While the stories occur over a different period of time and include independent characters, they are united by a feeling of unity in the face of desperate times.  With his writing, Rash illuminates a larger truth about society, and our place within it.  – Kelli Tatum, Reference

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