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.

9 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never heard of the term country noir.

Justine Dell said...

I'm with Alex. ;-)

I'm like you and rarely find that book that makes me itch to read more from the same author ... but when it happens, jeez! I can't get to the store fast enough.

~JD

Matthew MacNish said...

Richard Price, eh? I'd definitely take his advice.

And I'm always in awe of all the obscure, but clearly brilliant, books you get your hands on.

Jessica Bell said...

Where do you find all this amazing stuff? Love your taste ...

Bryan Russell said...

Oh, the book-finding tricks of a former bookstore owner...


Or, you know, I possibly feel compelled to simply buy all the books I come across (you should see my house), and so there's bound to be at least one or two good ones somewhere in the muddle.

Taryn Tyler said...

"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."

What I would give for your way with words.

Bryan Russell said...

Thanks, Taryn! That cheered up my work day.

Marsha Sigman said...

You had me at 'county noir'. If my life was a genre...this might be it. Or maybe not.

Must read.

Lydia Kang said...

That's a pretty strong recommendation of Price's!