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One Foot in Eden

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,674 ratings  ·  549 reviews
Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the sheriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest to the killing. Simply, almost elementally told through the voices of the sheriff, a local farmer, his beautiful wife, their son, and the sheriff's deputy,
Paperback, 214 pages
Published January 3rd 2004 by Picador USA (first published 2002)
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 ·  4,674 ratings  ·  549 reviews

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Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A year ago I read Ron Rash's Serena, a gritty southern historical novel featuring an evil, domineering protagonist often compared to Lady MacBeth. Before Rash reached that point in his career, he was a renown creative writing and literature professor at Western Carolina University, where he still teaches. In a group book swap, I recommended Rash's debut novel One Foot in Eden to a friend as a compelling summer read. Intrigued by Rash's writing set in the Carolina backwoods I decided to read this ...more
This was my first Ron Rash novel and I have to say I am very impressed. It’s a murder mystery, but a bit out of the ordinary as there is no body – just an accusation by an elderly mother who claims her son has been killed. Mrs. Winchester is utterly convinced that she knows the identity of the perpetrator. The problem is, despite the fact Holland Winchester just returned from the Korean War with a Gold Star, he’s a known troublemaker in town and more than likely only momma would be sorry to see ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One Foot in Eden a novel by Ron Rash is a wonderful and hauntingly beautiful novel. A classic tale of passion and tragedy but so well written that it delivers on every sentence. This is the type of book I love, a book that can bring its story, characters and setting to life.

Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows all that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the Sherriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest
One Foot in Eden: A Child May Ask

One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash was chosen by members of On the Southern Literary Trail as a group read for January, 2015. Special thanks to Diane Barnes, Co-Moderator "Miss Scarlett", On the Southern Literary Trail.

January 16, 2015

A child may ask, 'What is the world's story about?' And a grown man or woman may wonder, 'What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we're at it, what's the story about?'

I believe that there is one story in the world, and o
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
March, 2018...about to read this for the third time.
For me, Ron Rash's work is better than Faulkner's, and Im saying that not for his massive collected works of poetry, short stories, and novels but just for this first debut novel of his. To me, he is that good.

The setting is a small town in an Appalachian valley and mostly takes place during the time period before it was to be flooded for an electric dam project. Family farms and businesses are about to be taken by the government, and the citiz
Cathrine ☯️
The Sheriff, the wife, the husband, the son, the deputy will all have their say so.
Holland Winchester the local bad boy is missing. Carolina Power’s dam is about to drown Jocassee County where bodies will surface, some disappear, and at least one is waiting to be discovered.

This is Ron Rash’s first novel. I had to buy a copy because it is not in our library system. I cannot figure that. Any fan of the author or genre should not miss it. For some, this short novel may be a slow start, though i
Connie G
Ron Rash's debut novel was so engaging that I could not put it down, and read it in one evening. Although it involves a murder in 1950s Appalachian South Carolina, it is not a typical crime story. A few bad decisions by basically good people have a domino effect leading to a series of tragic events.

Holland Winchester's mother told Sheriff Will Alexander that her son has disappeared. She heard gunshots and she was sure that Billy Holcombe murdered her son, but no body was found. The book is narra
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
at first, i was afraid i wouldnt like this book - the first few pages were flawed - flawed i say!! it made me sad because i loved serena so much, and i was scared that this one wouldnt live up to that standard. but then it got much better, although i have to get out of this region, because the last few books i have read have taken place in the same general area, and they are blurring a little in my mind. i will definitely read more from him, after i cleanse the palate of my brain.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A missing man, marital infidelity, the suspicion of a murder… set in rural South Carolina in the mid-20th century, this story is told through 5 characters. What I loved about this book was the use of dialect, rich colloquialisms created a vibrant sense of place. The story gets 3 stars, the language gets 5 stars.
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written story is essentially about good and evil and as the cover states, passion and tragedy . Voiced in 5 parts : the high sheriff , the wife( Amy) , the husband ( Billy) , the son( Issac ), and the sheriff's deputy , the passion and tragedy were easily placed , but it leaves one wondering where exactly to assign the the good and the evil. The winner of The Appalachain Book Of The Year in 2002, this is my first read by Ron Rash , which I've been told is not his finest work, ha ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Quick read, read it in one evening. I kept feeling like I had read it before, but I can't figure out if I have (although I've been tracking my reading since before it was published) or if it is similar in theme and structure to a novel I read by Wiley Cash last year (Appalachian farming, multiple narrators, an important river). It feels familiar, anyway. Maybe part of that is the setting, just a few counties over in Oconee County, in an area that was covered up by the creation of Lake Jocassee. ...more
Diane Barnes
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well, besides being able to create beautiful prose in a very authentic language spoken by country people, Ron Rash also knows how to tell a story. I could have been one of those reviewers who read the book in one night, if my eyes and body had cooperated with me. Alas, it took me longer, but I did finish in a marathon read this afternoon. Suspense, character development, old words recognized and appreciated by this reader, multiple narrators; all went to make this an incredible read. This was Ra ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-writers
This is another magnificent book by the incomparable Ron Rash.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
A sad, but very good crime novel set in 1950's rural North Carolina. The 1st 'crime' instigated by an old wise woman (witch?) leads to the 2nd 'crime' told through the voices of five characters in this short 200 page novel.

Great book! Looking forward to reading Ron Rash's Serena.

Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
My third Rash novel (though his debut), I'm starting to see a real pattern in Rash's storytelling. In addition to falling in the Southern Gothic genre with all that represents, nature is also a common theme in his books, to the point that it almost becomes another character.

Told in multiple first person points of view, "One Foot in Eden" is a murder mystery of sorts that's not so much a who-done-it as a how-done-it and why-done-it. With each new point of view a different layer of the story is re
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: us-regional
you know, i'm on a tear. after reading A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel i decided i'd spend the rest of my life reading books set in appalachia. i've taken many life decisions before and i haven't kept a single one, so draw your conclusion. still, this is heady stuff. both the Wiley Cash book and this, ron rash's first novel, have a way with language that is simply intoxicating. partly it's the dialect. there are sentences in this books, complete paragraphs really, that are pure gold. mostly ...more
Kirk Smith
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A murderous tale rendered beautifully. Multiple points of view and the author's slow unveiling of details really add to the suspense.-- I seldom even think of the books I am reading when I am at my job, it generally takes all of my focus and attention. This book however had me not just thinking of it, but in fact I was so intrigued to learn the rest of the story that I found myself plotting plausible reasons to leave work midafternoon to be back home reading again. Outstanding storytelling by R ...more
Paul Lockman
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a terrific debut novel! 4.5 stars. I will definitely get into more Ron Rash in the not too distant future. A murder mystery that poses an interesting question, can you get away with killing someone (and raising his child, all the time pretending that you are the father)? I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and was told from the perspective of many different people involved and I thought the character development was really strong and authentic. The book transports us back to the 1950s and ...more
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the most well-crafted books I've read in ages. Gripping plot, well-drawn characters, lyrical prose. When a poet starts writing fiction, you just have to stand back and watch. ...more
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club, literary
I read this book in one sitting, over 5 hours, cover to cover. It was so amazing. I'm now a full-on Ron Rash fan. His language, his sense of place, his ability to paint a complete picture in relatively few words of a town, its people, its time, are absolutely wonderful. I had no idea what I was missing. A beautiful Southern writer with a pared down, clear voice.

The book alternates from 5 points of view around a murder in a small South Carolina town in the 50s: the sheriff, the wife of a happily
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
For the last 50 pages alone, this book should probably get 5 stars. The middle narrative, still strong, just didn't resonate as much as the rest of the novel.
Great book. Like the jacket will tell you, equal parts vintage crime novel with southern gothic fiction thrown in for good measure. I wanted to think Ron Rash as Cormac McCarthy-lite, but that would be inaccurate. His writing is more pensive, plaintive. His writing is thoughtful, clear as can be, like a natural oral story teller.

Horace Derwent
i'm now reading the paper back edition with this cover, released by Text Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, 2002, 29.95 AUSD ...more
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Southern Appalachia Enthusiasts in Need of Peril
Shelves: 2020
"Nothing is solid and permanent. Our lives are raised in the shakiest foundations. You don't need to read history books to know that. You only have to know the history of your own life."

It's been a few years since I read Ron Rash.

I started with "Serena" and then on to "The Cove" fairly quickly and really loved his writing style. Other authors became apart of my life and unfortunately, Rash got pushed to the attic of my mind.

As a member of On the Southern Literary Trail, I noticed they had selec
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
"I was learning that leaving a place wasn’t as easy as packing up and getting out. You carried part of it with you whether you wanted to or not."

That pretty much sums up all the story components found in this one--- whether that be directed at the places, people, circumstances, loves, hates, family ties, or occupations. Rash can draw it all to one little quote, hidden in one little paragraph, on one obscure page, but I think that's where he was guiding me all along. He blends Appalachian Fi
B. R. Reed
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was looking for a good writer, an intelligent and thoughtful writer, who wrote about the "mountain south." I found him in Ron Rash. One Foot in Eden was my first Ron Rash book and I have since read three more of his books and two volumes of his short stories. Rash is a native of the NC/SC mountains and currently teaches creative writing at Western Carolina U. He writes about the people of the southern Appalachians and he does it well. I recommend him to all of my friends and book store people. ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern
I would think if you were a southern author and read this book you would be jealous. Rash's debut novel is a wonderful read. It's eerie, it's suspenseful, and it's southern gothic at its best. I loved how he broke the story into so many points of view. Rash is a fantastic writer that does "southern lit" justice! I like how in this book and in Serena he uses the land to show the hardships the Carolina people are exposed to. He has a way with story telling. ...more
This book and I did not get off on the right foot in the first chapter. I kept thinking "Serena was better *sigh* Serena was SO much better." Then I hit the chapter called 'The Wife' and wham, I was hooked. Next, the chapter called 'The Husband,' which kept me up until 2am. Then at 7am, groggy-eyed and coffee in hand, I met 'The Son' and knew my to-do list for the day was out the window. Ron Rash knows how to suck you down into the quagmire of Southern Goth, and he keeps you pinned in there unti ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you’re a fan of Cormac McCarthy then you’ll appreciate this book. Southern fiction at its best. A missing body, the presence of a witch and the secrets of a family. Good stuff!
Ava Catherine
I enjoyed One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash, which is his first novel. I have read and enjoyed several of his novels, but just overlooked this one until now. Set in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1950s, the backdrop of the novel is the imminent flooding of the Jocasssee Valley to create the new Carolina Power Dam. Southern adherence to tradition and the march of progress, therefore, come into direct conflict. Ron Rash describes this in horrifying detail in the way local graveyards are relocated by ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
There’s a column in our local Sunday newspaper where you can submit five titles of books you’ve recently read, and based on that, you’re provided with the title of something they think would be the perfect fit for your next read. One Foot In Eden was that book. It was nothing I would have otherwise known about or picked up on my own, but as they predicted, it was a spot on moody read that I really got into.

The story takes place in small town Appalachia, where the residents of the local hollows w
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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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