Nothing Gold Can Stay

Ron Rash, Author
Ron Rash. Ecco, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-220271-0
Reviewed on: 11/12/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
Rash’s latest short fiction collection explores the often harsh vicissitudes of life in North Carolina. In the title story, two drug-addicted friends make plans to rob a former employer of his WWII souvenir, while “Night Hawks” features a former teacher with a self-inflicted facial scar who seeks refuge as a late-night radio DJ. Rash’s period stories, though, make the biggest impression, like the Depression-era “The Trusty,” in which a con man on a chain gang seduces a lonely farmer’s wife in the hope of using her to aid in his escape. In “The Magic Bus,” a 16-year-old country girl encounters two San Francisco hippies in a flower-painted VW microbus who entice her to run away with them. “The Dowry,” set immediately after the Civil War, relates how a pastor’s surprising sacrifice allows a young Union veteran to marry the daughter of a Confederate officer who lost his hand in battle. For a change of pace, in the humorous “A Sort of Miracle,” an accountant on an illegal bear hunt finds safety in the hands of his two slacker brothers-in-law. Although too many of the stories rely on the same basic dynamic, Rash impresses with clear-eyed, sympathetic writing about flawed and troubled characters. Agent: Marly Rusoff, the Marly Rusoff Literary Agency. (Mar.)
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