Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories
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From the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling award-winning author of Serena and The Cove, thirty of his finest short stories, collected in one volume.
No one captures the complexities of Appalachia—a rugged, brutal landscape of exquisite beauty—as evocatively and indelibly as author and poet Ron Rash. Winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, two O Henry prizes, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, Rash brilliantly illuminates the tensions between the traditional and the modern, the old and new south, tenderness and violence, man and nature. Though the focus is regional, the themes of Rash’s work are universal, striking an emotional chord that resonates deep within each of our lives.
Something Rich and Strange showcases this revered master’s artistry and craftsmanship in thirty stories culled from his previously published collections Nothing Gold Can Stay, Burning Bright, Chemistry, and The Night New Jesus Fell to Earth. Each work of short fiction demonstrates Rash’s dazzling ability to evoke the heart and soul of this land and its people—men and women inexorably tethered to the geography that defines and shapes them. Filled with suspense and myth, hope and heartbreak, told in language that flows like “shimmering, liquid poetry” (Atlanta Journal Constitution), Something Rich and Strange is an iconic work from an American literary virtuoso.
compel my father, a man with a university education, to drive a good half-hour to hear a preacher who, if his spelling and grammar were any indication, probably hadn’t finished high school. Outside of town it began to rain. I turned on the Buick’s windshield wipers and headlights. Soon hills became mountains, red clay darkened to black dirt. I swallowed to relieve the ear pressure from the change in altitude as the last ranch-style brick house, the last broad, manicured lawn, vanished from my
is as quiet as the moments after the Japanese sniper fired at him from the tree. He remembers the man he shot and killed, the man who would have killed him had he aimed six inches lower. He had not heard the shot, only felt the blow as the bullet hit his helmet. He fell to the ground, his face looking up straight into the face in the tree. It was as if they were underwater, everything silent and in slow motion. He watched the Japanese soldier eject the spent shell, take a bullet from his ammo
weatherman had said, showing a ten-year chart of August rainfalls. As if Marcie needed a chart when all she had to do was look at her tomatoes shriveled on the vines, the corn shucks gray and papery as a hornets’ nest. She stepped off the porch and dragged a length of hose into the garden, its rubber the sole bright green among the rows. Marcie turned on the water and watched it splatter against the dust. Hopeless, but she slowly walked the rows, grasping the hose just below the metal mouth, as
nodding at the rope dangling from a loft beam. “Then get out front of this barn,” his companion said. “I want that white man looking at empty hands.” Once outside, they could see the farm clearly. Crop rows were weed choked, the orchard unpruned, the cabin itself shabby and small, two rooms at most. They watched the farmer go inside. “How you know he got a gun when he hardly got a roof over his head?” the youth asked. “The Colonel wouldn’t put hogs in such as that.” “He got a gun,” the man
owner, now this farmer, to finish his say and dismiss them. “The Colonel,” the farmer asked, “he up in Virginia now?” “Yes, suh,” the older fugitive said, “least as I know.” “Up near Richmond,” the youth added. “That’s what the Miss’s cook heard.” The farmer nodded. “Black niggers to do his work and now white niggers to do his fighting,” he said. The sun was full overhead now. Sweat beads glistened on the white man’s brow but he did not raise a hand to wipe them away. The youth cleared his