Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review - Nothing Gold Can Stay

First off, I will unabashedly admit to being a huge fan of Ron Rash. He is one of my very favorite modern writers. So I will always pick up whatever new book he publishes as soon as I see that there is a new one to get. His most recent is a collection of stories titled Nothing Gold Can Stay (Ecco, 2013).

Rash's novel Serena is one of my all time favorite novels, and I have written about him several times in the past in other book reviews. As I have read more and more of his work (as he publishes more...) I have become increasingly unsettled by his short stories, in the sense that he often writes dark, tragic stuff. As I have noted before, the writing is lyrical, atmospheric and emotionally very raw...these are good things. But they tend not to be hopeful stories. And while I do think that the tragic side of things can make for some of the truest and most "real" writing, it can also be exhausting to read story after story that leaves you with a sense of "ugh".

Nothing Gold Can Stay continues this trend. Like Burning Bright (2010) and Chemistry and Other Stories (2007) before it, it is a work of masterful writing but one which left me drained. Despite all the things that life throws at us, and that which we bring upon ourselves, I am a fundamentally optimistic and hopeful person. I'm not sure Ron Rash is. But that being said, these are some fantastic stories, and well worth reading. And a few are even hopeful...

Despite the dark side, the publishing of a new Ron Rash book is a minor holiday for me, and this is no exception. This is brilliant work that everyone should read.

From the opening paragraph of The Woman at the Pond:
"Water has its own archaeology, not a layering but a leveling, and thus it is truer to our sense of the past, because what is memory but near and far events spread and smoothed beneath the present's surface."

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