Something Rich and Strange

Ecco: HarperCollins. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780062349347. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062349361. F
Set in the mountains of western North Carolina, this latest story collection by Rash (Serena) captures the unique, complex culture and history of the Appalachian region. Life and circumstances are often challenging in this part of America, and Rash doesn't shy from including many of the issues facing the region today, especially methamphetamine addiction. Ranging in time from the Civil War to the present, these stories aren't happy, but there's a great feel for the resiliency and determination of mountain people, whether a young woman protecting her livestock and home from roaming Confederate soldiers, a boy trying to keep his family together while his parents are more interested in getting high, or parents working two jobs to help their daughter go to college even as they count the days until her tour in Afghanistan is over.
VERDICT Indeed rich and strange and sometimes haunted, this work will certainly appeal to fans of short fiction and Appalachian literature, but it's well worth a try for anyone interested in beautifully crafted short stories. Rash is a modern Southern master who deserves mention with the likes of Eurora Welty and Flannery O'Connor. [See Prepub Alert, 4/14/14; previewed as Above the Waterfall.]
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