Monday, January 23, 2012
Burning Bright - Under the Microscope
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As much as I love short stories, I don't tend to read a lot of short story collections, but I made an exception for this book by Ron Rash. His stories would probably fit into what's called country noir, which is good because I've been getting into country noir lately. Now, I'm not entirely sure what country noir is, but I like it. The basic idea is that it takes crime noir and pulls it out of the cities, rooting it in the (often southern) back country, in the bars and meth labs of a decaying rural landscape.
What's a little different about this collection is its breadth and scope. The time span seems to cover the last hundred and fifty years, from the Civil War to the present, and while each story is unique and different, each also holds a fierce depth of character, a gritty sympathy for the people who walk its pages, but a sympathy that does not accept excuses. Burning Bright is an apt title, as these stories are about casting a bright light on shadowed corners. There's gritty realism here, and many of the stories are dark, but each is also feathered with a strange beauty, a crackle of truth lit by the harsh light of the fire burning from page to page.
Rarely do I read a book by an author and then rush out to get something else by them. Almost never, in fact. But I did that here, snapping up Rash's award-winning Serena at the earliest opportunity. Count me a fan.
Richard Price calls Rash "a gorgeous, brutal writer."
Yes. And yes.