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Burning Bright: Stories

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,631 ratings  ·  247 reviews
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Ron Rash is "a storyteller of the highest rank" (Jeffrey Lent) and has won comparisons to John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, and Gabriel García Márquez. It is rare that an author can capture the complexities of a place as though it were a person, and rarer still that one can reveal a land as dichotomous and fractious as App ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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chris wilson owes me some child support.

and it looked bigger on the internet; like an actual baby, i was surprised at just how tiny it was. it is wonderful wonderful, and i have no complaints about my book-son, but i just wish it had about a hundred more stories in it. i read it in a day, despite all efforts to "hold back" a little. but for a tiny book, it rocked my world in a huge way.

my favorite story was "the woman who believed in jaguars", mostly because i think the description of jaguar as

Ron Rash takes poverty, holds it before the Reader in clarion brilliance, and states "Watch what I can do with this shit."

Sure, Christ opines You'll always have the poor among you but what difference does it make unless we can be among them? Why meth? Why live in a trailer with windows painted black, scratching out a meaningless existence playing "Freebird" once an hour to equally poor and drunk rednecks? What does it mean to be middle-aged and very unclear about where the next meal is coming f
I am thankful that this book has a gorgeous cover. If it didn't, I probably wouldn't have noticed it among the hundreds of other books available through Goodreads' First Reads Giveaways and I wouldn't be sitting here trying to tell you a little something about it. After I won Burning Bright and added it to my to-read list (I wasn't planning to read this book had I not won it), Karen Brissette (known to most of you as karen brissette) called me a bastard. Then she called me a rotten, rotten basta ...more
Will Byrnes
Rash’s fourth book of short stories returns us to his Appalachia, covering a wide swath of time, from the Civil War to the present day. Rash has a gift for story-telling and the dozen tales here will do no harm to his sterling reputation. His characters tend to be at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder and their struggles tend toward the existential. A young Union soldier’s wife is threatened by a hostile Confederate. A family’s life is endangered by their meth-addict son. A lonely woman, ...more
What I want to say about this collection is that I liked it. The first section more than the last. It seemed to have more atmosphere and emotion, to hold my interest with it's narrative and location. But that doesn't make for a good review.

Rash is most certainly a literary craftsman, forming tiny slice of life stories set in what is repeatedly called Appalachia in the blurb. I've recently read Pollock and Franklin and McCarthy and Woodrell, I think I've got a good idea of what this word means. I
Larry Bassett
I read the first story of Burning Bright and wondered, “Why would I want to read more stories like this?” It was about what abject poverty did to some hillbillies and their children. It was about meanness and pride. I was demoralized. Then I immediately picked up the book again and read the second story.

The second story weren’t much better: a community in the mountains used up by meth.

Recently I read a book The Life You Can Save that convinced me that the real severe poverty in the world is
There was some good stories here. I have briefly gone over a few here in this review. The quality of storytelling was good, there was a few that lacked originality and hook. I give it 3.5 stars.

Hard times
Jacob and Edna are farmers they sell corn and cabbage due to the depression they'd re facing hard times they have a hen and a case of missing eggs. Jacob goes out and asked in the local area inquiring if possibly any stray dogs responsible. Money is hard to come by but he will have to think is i
Sheldon Lee Compton
Rash is a short story warrior. He will take the top of your head plumb off with some of these. And the others, they'll break your damn heart and quicken your blood. I'm telling you, Rash gets out the broad sword with this collection. My favorite book of his so far.
Diane S.
Spanning time from the Civil War through to the present, divided into two sections these short stories are gritty and real. All the people are going through some type of adversity, while through their own fault or just life's circumstances. Many are trying to recover something they have lost, trying to find a new path or have taken something that do not belong to them.

Rash's rendering of time and place is nothing short of astonishing. The details in these short stories make one feel that they ar
Sep 23, 2009 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Indie White box
These magnificent short stories center around tough choices in limited circumstances. Rash once again captures the voice of the Appalachians in stunning prose.

The first two stories (Hard Times, The Back of Beyond)alone and in juxtapostion are worthy of discussion. Two men taking different approaches to "ridding the snake from the henhouse"; the first of which turns out to be a harmless young girl, the second a meth-addicted nephew who is selling aff the farm a little at a time until his elderly
Short story capsules of poverty, choices, epiphany.
When you finish reading a book & are loathe to put it away on one of your many bookshelves & instead opt to keep it by your bedside table so it can be close to you for just a little while longer... well then you know you've found a gem. This book is probably my favorite read this year. Ron Rash is a fantastic writer. I loved every single one of these stories. There was a sadness in every single one, a deep loneliness laced throughout all the different characters, but you feel them all. W ...more
I think Ron Rash is such a fine writer, with an elegance that belies the grittiness of his stories. He obviously knows his subject matter well and is able to make us feel his characters' pain and the toughness of their lives. His stories all have a strong sense of place and show his years of Appalachian heritage. Imbued with a quiet beauty, each story paints a complete picture.

His beautiful and lyrical language just grabs the reader and does not let go. Here is something that just was so touchi
A lot of the 2 & 3 star reviews here are mainly down to the dark subject matter, and generally depressing air that these stories carry. Neither of these things bothered me; if it's dark and depressing you want Daniel Woodrell can out-dark Rash with his eyes closed, and I four-starred his Outlaw Album stories just recently. No, the problem here is that these stories although well written and easily read, lacked a certain edginess, a quirkiness, a bit of madness. If he was going for dark, for ...more
The stories in "Burning Bright" nearly all take place in the same starkly beautiful patch of Appalachia near Boone, North Carolina. Life there has always been hard--these stories take place during the Civil War, the Depression, World War II and the present day---when home grown meth labs and wrecked personal jets dot the landscape. I am usually not a fan of historical fiction in a short story format, but every one of these stories works perhaps because Rash's characters, whatever their era, are ...more
This was a my first experience with Ron Rash and I am happy to say it was a good one. Skillfully written short stories with well developed and interesting characters. Definitely satisfying for a fan of Southern Gothic fiction.

Would recommend to those who enjoy both the short story format and SGF.
I'm not a fan of short stories, but I really did enjoy these!! My favorites were the last one, "Licolnites," and I think it was the third one... "The Ascent?" I apologize, I already returned the book to the library, so I don't have it in front of me. I'm referring to the story about the young boy who finds the airplane crash. That story took a completely different turn than what I was expecting. I thought it was about a young boy who was part of the search party and that the couple in the airpla ...more
Tight stories set in the rural poverty of Appalachia, capturing the voices, the despair, the apathy and the weak struggles to overcome.
No, I'm not a fan of short stories. I want more time to get to know my characters and I want a clear resolution that most short stories don't seem to deliver. No, I don't relish stories about abject poverty and what it can do to families and children. But...yes, I love what Ron Rash does with his Appalachian region. His beautiful prose put me right in the middle of a slice of Appalachian life, then he extracted me and left his people to their lives. An old couple run out of their house into a di ...more
Rhonda Browning White
This collection of short stories is an amazing depiction of the heart, soul, fervor and fatalism that is Appalachia. The stories herein span centuries, but each of them is flavored with the bittersweet taste of that ancient chain of mountains and the people they've birthed. From "Lincolnites" set in the Confederate war to "Back of Beyond" that might have occurred yesterday (or tomorrow), each of these stories paints a realistic, vivid, heartbreakingly honest image of the North Carolina I know an ...more
Burning Bright is a short story collection by Ron Rash. All are good and it's hard to pick any favorites, but the stories that stand out to me are: "Hard Times"--which I first read in a workshop, "Back of Beyond," "The Ascent," which I first read in The Best American Short Stories, I think it was the 2010 edition, and "Lincolnites."

In "Hard Times," eggs go missing out of Jacob and Edna's hen house. Jacob sets a trap to catch the snake he's sure is stealing his eggs, but has a difficult choice w
James Kayler
"Into the Gorge" has some themes which are revisited in "The Cove." Rash like Carmac McCarthy captures the violence as well as the beauty found in the East TN and Western NC mountains. Character in this story searches for ginseng root. Could not help but think of Papaw and his love of these mountains and his annual spring search for a ginseng plant. Rash opens his story with a beautiful and poetic description of the effects of encroaching alzheimers disease on the main character's aunt. This des ...more
Barksdale Penick
It might have been a 4.5, but I flet I could give it a five. Just loved the stories, sad as they were, about folks in North Carolina in various cricumstances of decline. The nasty smell of meth permeates many of these tales--oh but for the grace of God that is not me. I think of the 10 or so stories 8 were fantastics. Muc worth the read
There is a lot to admire in these gritty and lyrical stories of Appalachia, whose characters range from a patient Lincolnite soldier's wife in the Civil War to the lonely child of modern day meth addicts. But the twist or abrupt endings bugged me, and writers like Bonnie Jo Campbell ( American Salvage ) and Lydia Peelle ( Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing ) have recently covered similar contemporary themes--though different settings--with more power and grace. ...more
This is 4 1/2 stars. It's an excellent collection of gritty, disturbing stories that are very well written. They reveal the harsh lives of poor Appalachian people, sometimes setting your teeth on edge. I gasped during the first story, Hard Times. I'm definitely interested in reading more of Ron Rash.
Clayton H
Great stories: controlled, gritty, they drag you in like a fish hook through the soft skin of your cheek, they compel with an extraordinary honesty (that ring of true).
Susanne Carter
This review is included on my blog:

If Eudora Welty were alive today she would undoubtedly be a member of Ron Rash’s Facebook Fan Club. The Mississippi novelist and short story writer believed that a “sense of place is as essential to good and honest writing as a logical mind; surely they are somewhere related,” she wrote: “It is by knowing where you stand that you grow able to judge where you are." (

Ron Rash’s “sense of place” i
It was a pleasure to read Rash's work for the first time. Serena made a big splash, but I wasn't aware he wrote stories. Beautiful, understated writing. I found the stories that dealt with the ravaged lives of people dealing in rural areas with meth addiction to be the most powerful. Some of the other stories fell flat for me, felt underdeveloped or had endings that seemed to just die out, making them unmemorable. But I will for sure check out all his other work.
Teodora Tanasie
I like the writing style of this author a lot. He had a way of making you connect with his characters. So, where was the problem and why isn't this book one of my favorites?

Well, I guess I just don't like short stories. Especially those, which seemed unfinished, somehow. Because this author is talented you start falling for his characters, you like them, you worry about them. And then the story is over and you start wandering what happened to them after the passage described in the story. Did th
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Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other St ...more
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Serena The Cove One Foot in Eden Saints at the River The World Made Straight

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“One guy has his head on a table, eyes closed, vomit drooling from his mouth. Another pulls out his false teeth and clamps them on the ear of a gal at the next table. An immense woman in a purple jumpsuit is crying while another woman screams at her. And what I'm thinking is maybe it's time to halt all human reproduction. Let God or evolution or wathever put us here in the first place start again from scratch, because this isn't working.” 0 likes
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