In twelve stories, Rash creates an image of western North Carolina, where the meth addicts outnumber college graduates and farmers combined and where the beauty of the land becomes the fabric of its inhabitants’ souls. Each story develops characters in just a few pages but the North Carolina mountains are the true star of these stories and Rash gives them their due.
In The Corpse Bird, a successful, educated man in a subdivision can not shake the mountain folklore he grew up with, frighten his neighbors with superstitions. In Lincolnites, Rash tells of a young woman alone in Confederate country while her husband is fighting for the other side. Jared, a little boy, escapes his parents’ meth habit in the cockpit of crashed plane in The Ascent.
The title story, Burning Bright, shows us that if you are not born on the side of these mountains, you will never fully belong when a local widow marries an outsider. In Back of Beyond, takes another, even harsher look at the effects of methamphetamine. Rash’s writing is deceptively simple. In Back of Beyond when Parsons, the pawn shop owner is asked why he cares, he thoughtfully answers, “I guess because no else does.”
Rash’s stories range from the civil war to today, each one tells of beauty and tragedy in the Appalachia, with same starkness and intensity of a fresh mountain snowfall.
Burning Bright by Ron Rash was received for free by the Boston Book Bums