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Burning Bright: Stories Paperback – February 1, 2011
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
The latest from Rash (Serena), a collection, begins with Hard Times, in which a struggling farmer in the midst of the Great Depression tries to discover who's stealing eggs from his henhouse without offending the volatile pride of his impoverished neighbors. The present-day stories are also situated in poverty-plagued small towns whose young citizens are being lost to meth addictions: in Back of Beyond, a pawnshop owner has to intervene when he learns his nephew Danny has kicked his parents out of their house and sold off their furniture to support his habit; in The Ascent, a young boy lovingly tends to a couple of corpses—victims of a small plane crash. Rash's stories are calm, dark and overtly symbolic, sometimes so literal they verge on redundant: in Dead Confederates, when a man falls into the Confederate tomb he's looting, the graveyard caretaker notes: I'd say he's helped dig his own grave. With a mastery of dialogue, Rash has written a tribute and a pre-emptive eulogy for the hardworking, straight-talking farmers of the Appalachian Mountains. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Born and raised in the Carolinas, Rash—also a poet and novelist (Serena, 2008)—has become known as a writer of Appalachia. Although these 12 stories are set in that region, in times ranging from the Civil War to today, they display a universality that goes beyond time or place. Rash’s characters, often struggling to make their way in the world, act as they believe they must to save what is dear to them—family members, a marriage, a heritage, a nation, and even a neighbor’s child. In the title story, a woman widowed and remarried to a younger handyman drifter lies to protect her husband, despite what she knows in her heart. In this, as in other stories, Rash leaves the reader with thoughts of the near-inevitable aftermath and its consequences. There is a purity and precision in Rash’s prose, reminiscent of his poetry, that makes these stories as deceptively easy to read as they are hard to forget. This is memorable, unflinching short fiction by a master of the form. --Michele Leber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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These kinds of things are outside my experience, so I cannot say how realistic they are or how much they truly reflect the human condition in the Appalachian subculture. At the very least, it is safe to say that they support many prevalent stereotypes of the poor rural south and Appalachia.
These are very vivid tales, and feel real even if they are made up. None of these are happy tales with nice, tidy endings, and a couple can almost break your heart, so anyone that needs such stuff to “enjoy” what is being read should look elsewhere. I saw a number of 1-star reviews complaining that these stories were “too depressing”. I would agree that they are often very depressing, but I thought the writing itself was very good, and definitely held my attention throughout. The reader often feels like he is being made privy to details of someone’s life that polite people don’t ask about.
This was a short read. I read the entire book in one two-day period.
There are two or three tales where methamphetamine problems feature prominently. It was interesting how one drug addict’s mother insisted that “it was not his fault” even though her own life was being destroyed by his habit.
One observation in one story (“Back of Beyond”) that stuck with me: “Pawnbrokers, like emergency room doctors and other small gods, had to abjure sympathy.”
Great read overall. I thought the first half of the book contained the best stories. I’m not sure why there was a “Part I” and a “Part II”, but I thought the “Part I” stories were much better.
The opening story about the extent to which the Great Depression left its mark of poverty upon country people is so ironic, centered upon the mysterious disappearance of a bantam hen’s eggs each day. Then there’s the story of an over-weight, lazy southern red-neck who wants to possess Confederate States of America Civil War items, most especially a sword. And what better way to get them than to dig up the graves of some of the Confederate soldiers. And what happens is the ultimate irony.
Then there are the heart-wrenching stories about what happens when characters become hooked on meth: two of these, one involving a little boy whose parents are hooked while the other what happened to the elderly parents and their hooked on the “breaking bad” stuff.
There’s a story about a Confederate soldier paying a visit to the wife of a Yankee sympathizer, called in the South Lincolnites. And that too has an ironic twist.
Of course all short stories have ironic twists, but Ron Rash’s are often a little more twisty!
I do question a couple first person narratives, one in particular: “Falling Star.” I just don’t think the narrator has the language skills to be telling the tale. But I’m a reader who often finds first person narratives less than satisfactory. So maybe I should actually say there are ten 5-stars. And give this one and another three!
Hey, that’s still worth the journey through. And, like me, you may want to take a second journey through.
"Hard Times." Something is stealing eggs from dirt poor farmers Jacob and Edna, eggs they can't afford to lose. Jacob sets a trap for the egg thief, but faces a difficult decision when the thief is something he never expected. This story, set during the Depression, examines the issues of pride, poverty, and a place where difficult choices are the only choices one has.
In "Back of Beyond," pawnshop owner Parson takes matters into his own hands when his meth-using nephew Danny turns Danny's parents--Parson's brother Ray and sister-in-law Martha out of their own home.
"The Ascent" also deals with the issue of meth addiction, but from the view point of fifth grader Jared, whose parents only concern is where to get the next dose of meth. Jared, left to fend for himself, finds a plane crash whose occupants--a husband and wife--were killed in the crash and begins to pretend they are his way to escape his life.
"Lincolnites" is set during the Civil War. A young widow is left to tend the family farm while her Southern husband is off fighting for the Union. When a lone Confederate soldier shows up, she will do what it takes to protect her family and her home--the Civil War conducted between a ragged soldier and a determined woman.
Most recent customer reviews
Stories are heartrending in their reality.