Ron Rash excels in expression and economy of words. His style is unpretentious, yet evocative. Something Rich and Strange is my first encounter with Rash, and certainly time well spent. It’s a book of short stories that crosses eras, from the civil war to present day. Each story, unique in it’s characters and circumstances, share the working class of North Carolina as its backdrop.
There is humor and tragedy, and sometimes both in the 34 stories. Whether overt or not, the book has a veil of melancholy throughout, providing us with a glimpse into lives hard-lived and sometimes our own condition. Rash’s characters are in the heart of Appalachia - farmers, soldiers, teachers, radio jockeys, janitors, carpenters, meth addicts, and widowers - each with a unique story in which their being becomes palpable and relatable. Rash almost modestly presents us with heartbreak, and just as austerely, with wit, though it is also tinged with sorrow.
And though everything seems swathed with this gloom, I could not tear myself away from soul-baring simplicity and stillness of Rash’s stories. The title seems to sum the quality of this work perfectly, because the book is something rich and strange.
Vickie’s rating 5 stars