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Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories

Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories

3.5 6
by Ron Rash

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From Ron Rash, PEN / Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena, comes a new collection of unforgettable stories set in Appalachia that focuses on the lives of those haunted by violence and tenderness, hope and fear—spanning the Civil War to the present day. 

The darkness of Ron Rash’s work contrasts


From Ron Rash, PEN / Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena, comes a new collection of unforgettable stories set in Appalachia that focuses on the lives of those haunted by violence and tenderness, hope and fear—spanning the Civil War to the present day. 

The darkness of Ron Rash’s work contrasts with its unexpected sensitivity and stark beauty in a manner that could only be accomplished by this master of the short story form.

Nothing Gold Can Stay includes 14 stories, including Rash’s “The Trusty,” which first appeared in The New Yorker.

Editorial Reviews

“Ron Rash’s fifth story collection, NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY, set in hardscrabble Appalachia, has a tone and temperament like that of his compatriot Eudora Welty, with a twist of Barry Hannah.”
“. . . a wonderful collection.”
Boston Globe
“A lovely, essential new collection of stories . . . lyrical and honest, grounded in place yet sweeping in scope. . . . .[Rash’s] prose is elegant, suggestive, and Hardyesque.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Striking . . . engaging . . . mesmerizing . . . After finishing this collection, one simply just wants to read more of Ron Rash.”
Charlotte Observer
“In his new collection of stories, Ron Rash stunningly renders his native Appalachia as an exotic planetoid governed by its own peculiar orbital laws . . . Rash is a fast-rising superstar in the North Carolina literary constellation that includes such luminaries as Michael Parker, Clyde Edgerton and Phillip Gerard.”
Wall Street Journal
“Crime, with its violence, threads through the butcher’s-dozen of stories in the author’s masterly 14th book, Nothing Gold Can Stay, as inexorably as it winds through the problematic lives of his Appalachian-dwelling characters.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“[Rash’s] starkly beautiful prose has mapped the heart and soul of southern Appalachia in a way few writers of his generation can match. . . A splendid new collection. . . shimmering, liquid poetry. . .”
Kansas City Star
Nothing Gold Can Stay is a gripping collection, raw and real, that solidifies Rash as a powerful and imaginative storyteller.”
Janet Maslin
“Ron Rash’s Nothing Gold Can Stay is [his] best book since Serena. Excitingly versatile. . . The stories are united by clean, tough specificity, courtly backwoods diction, and a capacity for sending shivers. (Alfred Hitchcock would have loved the story ‘A Sort of Miracle’).”
New York Magazine
A collection of short stories about Appalachia that are actually more like diamonds: cold, glittering, valuable.”
Washington Post
“With NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY, Ron Rash cements his reputation as one of the foremost chroniclers of that mythic uber-America known as the South. . . At his best, Rash evokes an understated poignancy that is genuinely affecting. . .
Washington Independent Review of Books
“Masterfully crafted. The best of Rash’s stories, written in a spare prose style, have an aching lyricism as they chronicle the hard times and hard fall of his characters. The best of the best will haunt the reader long after they’re done.”
Miami Herald
“The stories of Nothing Gold Can Stay are tough-minded, surprising, illuminating even when Rash leaves much unsaid (often the reader comprehends more than the characters can). But no matter when they are set or who they concern, these stories are kin to each other.”
Scott Simon
“Mesmerized by Ron Rash’s new NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY. Short stories that play on for a long time in your mind.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“[Rash] bears comparison to the world’s truly great story writers—particularly Nathaniel Hawthorne for the gothic horrors that lie in the human heart and Anton Chekhov for his unflinching eye and his ability to capture a character in a single gesture.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Each of the stories in this collection comes to life under the power of Rash’s muscular way with words...The author creates a slice of life so authentic you can hear the rushing water and see the falling tears.”
Publishers Weekly
Rash’s latest short fiction collection explores the often harsh vicissitudes of life in North Carolina. In the title story, two drug-addicted friends make plans to rob a former employer of his WWII souvenir, while “Night Hawks” features a former teacher with a self-inflicted facial scar who seeks refuge as a late-night radio DJ. Rash’s period stories, though, make the biggest impression, like the Depression-era “The Trusty,” in which a con man on a chain gang seduces a lonely farmer’s wife in the hope of using her to aid in his escape. In “The Magic Bus,” a 16-year-old country girl encounters two San Francisco hippies in a flower-painted VW microbus who entice her to run away with them. “The Dowry,” set immediately after the Civil War, relates how a pastor’s surprising sacrifice allows a young Union veteran to marry the daughter of a Confederate officer who lost his hand in battle. For a change of pace, in the humorous “A Sort of Miracle,” an accountant on an illegal bear hunt finds safety in the hands of his two slacker brothers-in-law. Although too many of the stories rely on the same basic dynamic, Rash impresses with clear-eyed, sympathetic writing about flawed and troubled characters. Agent: Marly Rusoff, the Marly Rusoff Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Library Journal
His previous novels Serena and The Cove are set in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, so it is no surprise that Rash (Appalachian studies, Western Carolina Univ.) sets this collection of short stories in the same loosely defined but culturally abundant geographic region of the eastern United States. He captures this richness in "A Servant of History," wherein a capricious young scholar attempts to record lost British ballads from the memory of an elderly Appalachian woman before she passes away. At the same time, the stories also articulate revelations of human vulnerability to the surrounding environmental conditions. In "A Sort of Miracle," an accountant dies of hypothermia after falling into a frozen lake. Rash's short stories thematically paint Appalachia not as a definitive place but as a series of many interconnected ways of relating to human and environmental frailty. VERDICT Another fine addition to the Rash bibliography, and a great entry point for the uninitiated reader. Those who enjoy the writing of Silas House and Sharyn McCrumb will be drawn into Rash's Appalachia.—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Traps are embedded in the violence-streaked stories that comprise another fine collection from Rash (The Cove, 2012, etc.). Take the excellent opening story: "The Trusty." That's Sinkler, the unshackled member of a chain gang in the North Carolina mountains (Rash's invariable setting). While fetching water for the gang, the accomplished grifter sweet-talks a farmer's young wife into eloping. She knows the hidden trails, and that's where the tables are turned, violently. In the title story, two petty criminals, hooked on pills, steal some gold teeth. They're about to cash in, home free, but we know they're trapped losers, sure to be busted. There's an actual trap, a bear trap, in "A Sort of Miracle," the story of three knuckleheads on a mountainside. The unseen bear springs the trap and gets the ham, but the trapper dies as the black comedy intensifies. Of these 14 stories, it's the two from the Civil War era that will haunt you. In "Where the Map Ends," two runaway slaves are heading into the mountains, where many of the whites are Lincoln supporters. How could they have known that the farm where they shelter belongs to a man unmoored by his wife's suicide, slipping into madness? He helps the older slave but has a horrifying end in mind for his young mixed-race companion. In "The Dowry," the war is eight months past. Ethan fought for the Union. Now, he seeks to marry the daughter of a Confederate colonel, implacable since losing a hand on the battlefield. The story ends with a second severed hand. Also notable are "The Magic Bus," a '60s story in which a naïve country teenager has her disastrous first encounter with hippies, and "A Servant of History." Here, a very green Briton, researching ancient ballads in 1922, traps himself on a remote farm by bragging about his half-remembered Scottish ancestors. What had started out lightly satirical turns very grim indeed. Rash's oneness with the region and its people makes an indelible impression.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four prizewinning novels, including The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.

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Nothing Gold Can Stay 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“I’d fish until it was neither day nor night, but balanced between. There never seemed to be a breeze, pond and shore equally smoothed. Just stillness, as though the world had taken a soft breath, and was holding it in, and even time had leveled out, moving neither forward nor back. Then the frogs and crickets waiting for full dark announced themselves, or a breeze came up and I again heard the slosh of water against land” Nothing Gold Can Stay is an omnibus of fourteen short stories by American author, Ron Rash. Ranging from the time of the Civil War through to the present day, the stories occur in a feast of Appalachian settings: Tennessee mountains, small town, a river between Georgia and South Carolina, a casino, a farm near the Tennessee border, a college campus, a slope in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a derelict old house, a pond and more. Rash is a consummate storyteller who gives his reader a marvellous cast of characters: a prison trusty on a road gang, a desperate pair of drug addicts, a diver called in to recover a body, a debt-weary couple hoping for good luck, a pair of black fugitives, an Englishman with an interest in ballads, a father worried for his daughter serving in the Middle East, a husband fed up with his Florida in-laws, a mountain boy with a chance at a better life, a sixteen-year-old girl wishing for a more exciting life, a nineteenth century pastor who takes a drastic step to help a young couple, a grocery store manager prompted to recall an encounter in his teens, a night-time radio DJ and a retired veterinarian. The stories are filled with twists, amusing plays on language and accent, black humour, irony and, of course, beautiful prose. Rash will cause the reader to think about deception, theft, loyalty, feuds, gambling, hopelessness, revenge, physical beauty and ageing. Rash’s love of the Appalachian setting is apparent in every paragraph: “He stood there in the late-afternoon light, absorbing the valley’s expansiveness after days in the mountains. The land rippled out and appeared to reach all the way to where the sun and earth merged”. Rash’s stories are pure gold. 4.5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I sent this to a friend in the Sonoma County Jail. He couldn't put it down and now it is making the rounds with the other inmates. They are all discussing it in detail - the characters, the challenges, the outcomes. The stories are disturbing but have had a profound effect on them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ignore the one star reviews, this collection of short stories is worthy of more. Ron Rash once again displays his keen understanding of the Appalachian setting and the people that live there. Quotes like, "Stick with me and you'll be riding the cushions," exemplify Rash's keen understanding of the local dialect. With stories ranging from the Civil War to the 21st century, with characters from convicts to pastors, and plot twists abound, anyone who loves to read should pick up this book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Provocative stories make you think.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading 4 of the short stories, I gave up. The stories were disjointed and the characters were not developed enough. Not worth my time.