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Above the Waterfall

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  4,867 ratings  ·  710 reviews
Les, a long-time sheriff nearing retirement, contends with the ravages of poverty and crystal meth in his small Appalachian town. Nestled in a beautiful hollow of the Appalachians, his is a tight-knit community rife with secrets and suspicious of outsiders.

Becky, a park ranger, arrives in this remote patch of North Carolina hoping to ease the anguish of a harrowing past. S
Hardcover, 252 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Ecco (first published October 7th 2014)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  4,867 ratings  ·  710 reviews

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Will Byrnes
All we seen is hard trials and sorrows. I’d not deny it. Burdens are plenty in this world and they can pull us down in the lamentation. But the good Lord knows we need to see at least the hem of the robe of glory, and we do. Ponder a pretty sunset or the dogwoods all ablossom. Every time you see such it’s the hem of the robe of glory. Brothers and sisters, how do you expect to see what you don’t seek? Some claim heaven has streets of gold and all such things, but I hold a different notion. W
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
i was so excited to get this book at BEA - it was one of my four MUST-haves. while we were waiting in line for it, greg asked me what it was about. i just shrugged. "meth? appalachia? i don't care - it's ron rash!" and then i opened it up and hey! meth! appalachia!! who would have guessed!?

this is on my grit lit shelf, but it's on the end of the grit lit spectrum where there is little emphasis on the drugs and violence. the grit here doesn't scour, it just sort of buffs a little. very few grit l
Elyse  Walters
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
It could be just me - probably is...but I was bored as often as I was interested-
The writing is beautiful- and often the dialogue kept me very interested- but other times I drifted away with the lovely descriptions themselves.
“ The sound of water moving over smooth stones”.....for example, is beautiful - yet I wasn’t really feeling anything.
I knew the sheriffs ex-wife was depressed....but I never felt I knew her. I wanted to feel empathy.
Becky had a traumatic childhood experi
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: public-library
Dueling POVs from Sheriff Les and Park Ranger Becky. The sheriff knows better than to put too much faith in justice, he's seen too much. Sometimes the right thing to do is in direct contradiction with what the law dictates. Becky is emotionally scarred from a traumatic childhood incident. She has a pure love of nature and revels in being a part of it, it soothes her soul.

The end result for me came across as a tasty course of meat and potatoes that was inexplicably served with an exotic side dis
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sue by: Will Byrnes
This is my first venture into Ron Rash territory. The combination of a plot composed of conflicted, damaged and well written characters, incredibly descriptive prose alternating with actual poetry, and a story that, though set in the American South, could be moved elsewhere with small changes...has made me an instant fan.

Rash has combined stories of small town corruptions--crystal meth's inroads and the crimes that come with it, the individual "turning of the head" of an otherwise seemingly hone
Cathrine ☯️
In an interview with Jack Shuler for the South Carolina Review Ron Rash was commenting on his two formats—prose and poetic, and stated “When I write one, I can't do the other, explaining that the two forms seem to come to him on different frequencies. Yet One Foot in Eden began as a poem and just kept growing.”
This one also must be considered a successful blend of the two and was sublime reading for me. I savored every page, truly. I think it was written for kindred spirits such as myself.
Andrew Smith
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Becky has mental scars. In her youth a man entered her Virginia school and went to work with a rifle. Amongst the victims was her teacher. Now she’s a State Ranger at Locust Creek Park in the Appalachians, where she marvels at the nature that surrounds her every day and which sometimes inspires her to write poetry. She also tends for the needs of a septuagenarian named Gerald who owns a plot of land that abuts the park. Les has tragedy in his past too, in his case it was the loss of his son who ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A rather simple plot compared to many of Rash's other books but filled with memorable characters nevertheless. Becky, her story is written in a kind of surreal style. She has had a tragic past, but is now the ranger at the National Forest and is the friend of an old landowner. C. J. came back to town to take a job and now finds that the job has disappeared, leaving him without support for his wife and sons. Barry, a young police officer who quits after a nasty meth bust. Can no longer bear to lo ...more
Between heaven and hell on earth, the community of Mist Creek Valley battle out the challenges of everyday life.
You can see heaven all around us, Preacher Waldrop claimed. But Mist Creek Valley would soon confirm that the same was true of hell.
Les, the soon-to-be-retired sheriff, made two mistakes in his life that would drive him to do irrational things to make things right while time permits. He has three weeks before he retires and move into his new cabin where he will spend the rest of h
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Perhaps not my favorite Ron Rash, but that's kind of like saying "Well, it wasn't my favorite trip to Paris". It's still a trip to Paris, which means it's pretty damn good.

With themes of The Secret Wisdom of the Earth and A Land More Kind Than Home, Rash tells the tale of a local Sheriff on the verge of retirement, land rights, environmental damage, and the plague of drug addiction. Each character with a back story.

More than in any of his other books, he also writes so beautifully about the natu
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015

I have to thank my Goodreads friends for suggesting to me Ron Rash. I'm not sure I would have taken the plunge on my own, as I am a bit wary of thrillers that open with transcendental meditations over a mountain sunset scene and use words like 'abeyant' in relation with ancient cave paintings at Lascaux. In the end, I am glad I went in without misconceptions or misplaced expectations, because I discovered a talented wordsmith, capable of uniting a lyricism and an empathy worthy of James Sallis w
Connie G
Ron Rash has written an atmospheric novel of guilt and redemption set in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. The sheriff, Les, is a bit of a loner haunted by his failed marriage to a woman he could not help. He has a relationship with Becky, a park ranger, who had been traumatized by a harrowing school shooting as a child as well as experiences with an eco-terrorist. Becky has found solace in the natural world and poetry. She is also close to an old farmer named Gerald who reminds Becky ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ew
Above the Waterfall was my first book by Ron Rash but it won't be my last. Reading other reviews, I see comments suggesting that readers familiar with Rash's other books liked this one but not as much as his other books. As a neophyte Rash reader what I read was a beautifully crafted story set in Appalachia reflecting the sadness, despair, brutality and bad decisions that come from deprivation and poverty, and the hope and will to live that come with human connection. This sparse short novel is ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I debated about a rating for this book which is the rather simple story of a small town sheriff and a female park ranger who are struggling to put their past behind them. He's contemplating his looming retirement and she is a character mostly portrayed through written prose about the beautiful Appalachian countryside that she dearly loves. Short story short (you can read this book in a few hours) they both end up becoming entangled in a dispute between a longtime local man and an ambitious resor ...more
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful gem of a book!
Julie Christine
"One thing I think proved, I shall never write to "please," to convert; now am entirely and for ever my own mistress." Virginia Woolf, 'A Writer's Diary'.

Above the Waterfall is Ron Rash's thirteenth work of prose and fifth work of poetry. Hmm, yes, you read that correctly. It is a novel written in part as a prose-poem, alternating between the straightforward storytelling voice of Les, a small-town sheriff three weeks out from retirement, and the slipstream soliloquies of Becky, a park ranger tr
Diane Barnes
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I was disappointed in this book. A good story/crime/mystery novel, but the character of Becky and the switch to her point of view every other chapter made the narrative lose steam, in my opinion. Also, her psychological problems resulting from a school shooting in her youth were only alluded to, but never fleshed out.

In all fairness, I suspect that had I read this at another time, I might have liked it better. Unfortunately, I was in line for the download from my library, and when it was sent au
Doug H
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite novel by this author, but it's only my third and I'm a total freak for character-driven writing over plot-driven writing. Add prosody to that and I'm a goner.

My second favorite Rash novel is The World Made Straight. He lays out an exciting plot in that novel and his lyrical writing style is on full display, but it left me wanting stronger female characters.

Serena is my third favorite. It gave me the stronger female character I was looking for (to say the least) and Rash's w
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first novel I’ve read by this author, so I can’t comment on how it compares with others in his oeuvre. I thought this was pretty good though. Published in 2015, it’s a shortish but multi-layered novel with chapters that alternate between two first person perspectives. Les is a local sheriff in a rural part of North Carolina, 51 years old and in his last few weeks before retirement. Becky is a forty-something Park Ranger. Both carry a considerable amount of psychological baggage from the past ...more
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2015
I struggled a little with this one, even though Ron Rash is one of my very favorite authors.

The story is told in alternating chapters by Les, a sheriff in a small Appalachian town who is several weeks away from an early retirement at age 51, and Becky, a park ranger with a deep love of nature. Both carry heavy burdens of guilt from events in their past.

The voices of these characters are very different. Les narrates in a very plainspoken, straightforward manner. Becky's narration is much more in
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Cheri by: Will Byrnes
"As I pass, the field seems to lift, peek to see what's under itself, then resettle. A pickup passes from the other direction. The flock lifts again and this time keeps rising, a narrowing swirl as if sucked through a pipe and then an unfurl of rhythm sudden sprung, becoming one entity as it wrinkles, smooths out, drifts down like a snapped bedsheet. Then swerves and shifts, gathers and twists. Murmuration: ornithology's word-poem for what I see. Two hundred starlings at most, but in Europe some ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
I really love reading good Appalachian fiction. I have very strong Appalachian roots, and sometimes it’s nice to get away from more metropolitan kind of stories and to be reminded of the very specific cultural quirks that I miss. I feel like Ron Rash should really scratch that itch of mine (no pun intended), and so I jumped at the chance to snag an ARC, but this really came up short for me.

Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Above the Waterfall is about Les, a sheriff on the brin
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Les is a long-time sheriff in a small Appalachia town and he has a close albeit a bit problematical relationship with Becky a park ranger since both are damage people with sad memories and that makes them a bit restrained and not eager to jump into a new relationship. Les only has 3 more weeks to work when a Gerard an elderly man is accused of poison the trout stream out of revenge because the resort that owns the land doesn't want him trespassing on the land because he is scaring the guests. Be ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Though sunlight tinges the mountains, black leather-winged bodies swing low. First fireflies blink languidly. Beyond this meadow, cicadas rev and slow like sewing machines. All else is ready for night except night itself. I watch the last light lift off level land. Ground shadows seep and thicken. Circling trees form banks. The meadow itself becomes a pond filling, on its surface dozens of black-eyed susans”

This, the first paragraph of Ron Rash’s sixth novel, assures readers that they are, once
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-writers
Once again, a master of southern writing delivers beautifully. Thank you, Ron Rash...
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a quiet book. You know what I mean. It was one of those reads that you fall sort of softly into without realizing, almost like falling asleep. You let the rhythm of the authors words wash over you and just kind of let the story happen.

Les is the long time sheriff of a small Appalachian town on the edge of retirement. His days are spent dealing with the ever growing plague of meth in his town and the petty squabbles of the local residents who fight progress with every weapon they can fin

My favorite thing about Ron Rash's writing is that it feels first and foremost like a love note to the Appalachians, at least the books I have read do. This particular story takes place in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains and having witnessed the magnificence of that area myself, I found Mr. Rash's words even more beautiful. Threads of poetry are weaved throughout this book, most paying tribute to the exquisite wonder of nature. These were my favorite parts.

Serena is my favorite Ron Rash
Kirk Smith
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brevity, so few words saying only the necessary. I especially liked how the natural world was described poetically. Beautiful abbreviated landscapes. Short & sweet. Rash has phenomenal skills! If he maintains this much diversity between each of his novels I will never become bored. Primarily, I like his credibility, it seems to me he either fact checks extensively or is knowledgeable of his subject first hand. Perfection of fact, perfection of form. I'm pleased there are two unread Rash's on my ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Most Rash novels have me keeling forward, desperately eager to follow his words and story. For his latest work, Id recommend that you not plan on gulping this down. As you likely have read, this novel has alternating chapters following the points of view of two individuals.

One of the characters, a forest ranger, sees the world in a gorgeous, poetic way and writes notes describing that world in her journal. These free-association journal entries are incredibly beautiful but are also clever - you
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Published date 1 16 Oct 01, 2014 07:33PM  

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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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