Ron Rash, Canongate Books 2012
This is a fine well-crafted collection of short stories, evoking by turn the Appalachians of the American Civil War, the despairing hungry of the Great Depression, and the vulnerability of an older woman’s love for a sensitive younger man.
The opening story, entitled Hard Times, is a worthy companion to the classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; the stories Into the Gorge and The Corpse Bird have the pitch-perfect tone found in the writings of the remarkable Flannery O’Connor. This is a book written in a style that echoes the best of bluegrass: traditional lyrics blending poetry and prose into simplicity of language that is precise, reflective, and venerable.
The author offers haunting, touching sketches of the human condition set in the bleakness and beauty of Appalachia. It was a worthy winner of the Frank O’Connor Short story Award in 2010.