On the Southern Literary Trail discussion

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Group Reads: Post-1980 > Final Impressions: One Foot in Eden: April 2018

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message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new)

Tom Mathews | 2506 comments Mod
Comments on this board are made with the assumption that readers have finished the book and may include spoilers.


message 2: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 1943 comments Mod
Barbwire, a tree, a horse, vultures ....one of the most memorable scenes for me. I want to know how he came up with the idea.


message 3: by Brina (new)

Brina Is there a way he can do a combined q/a of the two books?? That would be neat.


Cathrine ☯️  | 555 comments I just read this in December.
Perhaps I'll get to again but I'm backed up.
Mr. Rash is a very persuasive author.


message 5: by Vicki (new)

Vicki | 64 comments Once I finished half the books could not put it down until I finished. I delayed finishing the book by watching his talk at Cornell University on Youtube and really enjoyed hearing him speak. I look forward to reading more from Rash.


message 6: by Wyndy (new)

Wyndy | 68 comments Laura, that barbed wire/horse scene was brilliant! Who but Ron could have come up with such a plan? And I'm with you, Vicki - halfway in and all my plans for the night (and next day) evaporated. I HAD to finish this book. The amazing thing about Mr. Rash is he takes you to dark, dark places but leaves you with tiny nuggets of beauty.


message 7: by LeAnne: (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments And how creepy and suspenseful were the scenes with that old lady and the kid?


message 8: by Wyndy (new)

Wyndy | 68 comments Have mercy! The old lady and the son was just crazy and the reason why I didn't get anything done today. Talk about a tilt-a-whirl chapter. Wow.


message 9: by LeAnne: (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments Wouldnt this make a great movie?


Cathrine ☯️  | 555 comments LeAnne wrote: "Wouldnt this make a great movie?"

Yeah, if if was directed by us.


message 11: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 1943 comments Mod
That would be a given Cathrine, haha! We wouldn't let them mess it up.


message 12: by Wyndy (new)

Wyndy | 68 comments "Southern Trail Productions" - I like it! Surely somewhere in North/South Carolina, Louisiana or Tennessee, we could find the perfect Holcombes and Winchesters. Maybe Tommy Lee Jones as the high sheriff - I can totally picture him crossing that river through the rain carrying The Son.


Cathrine ☯️  | 555 comments Wyndy wrote: ""Southern Trail Productions" Tommy Lee Jones" .... 😍


message 14: by Wyndy (new)

Wyndy | 68 comments Ron Rash is a master at searing images onto your brain. Several are still with me from 'Serena' some five years or so after reading it. I loved his setup for 'One Foot In Eden' - each chapter was a little mini-novella, my favorite being The Husband. Billy Holcombe had the heaviest burdens of all - polio which left him "gelded," images of his wife laying with another man, disposing of a dead man in the heat of summer, raising a child with Winchester eyes, losing his farm and his secret. I thought some of Rash's most memorable, lyrical writing was in this chapter. But the whole book is good - it swallowed me up. This song kept ringing in my head the whole time I was reading. It captures the grit and "way down" of Rash's writing for me:

https://youtu.be/0-7IHOXkiV8


message 15: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 1943 comments Mod
Thanks Wyndy...I downloaded the album on hoopla. Great song.


message 16: by Judi (new)

Judi | 398 comments Wyndy wrote: ""Southern Trail Productions" - I like it! Surely somewhere in North/South Carolina, Louisiana or Tennessee, we could find the perfect Holcombes and Winchesters. Maybe Tommy Lee Jones as the high sh..."

I love it. Great idea.


message 17: by Judi (new)

Judi | 398 comments Cathrine ☯️ wrote: "LeAnne wrote: "Wouldnt this make a great movie?"

Yeah, if if was directed by us."


I agree! A great movie, even better if it was directed by us or Ron Rash.


message 18: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 3883 comments Mod
I read an interview with Ron Rash in a magazine, and he was asked what he thought about the movie of Serena. He said he sold the rights, and never gave it another thought because it enabled him to pay off the mortgage on his house. He said that Pat Conroy had told him never to worry about a book in film production, because the only thing Hollywood ever got right was the money, so take it and run. I have been told by others I trust not to watch Serena, so I took their advice and never have.


message 19: by Judi (new)

Judi | 398 comments Diane wrote: "I read an interview with Ron Rash in a magazine, and he was asked what he thought about the movie of Serena. He said he sold the rights, and never gave it another thought because it enabled him to ..."

I shall read Serena, but opt not to watch it from what I have heard from this group.


message 20: by Dustincecil (new)

Dustincecil | 175 comments finished this morning... I pretty much love anything with buzzards. so count me a fan!


message 21: by Judi (new)

Judi | 398 comments Dustincecil wrote: "finished this morning... I pretty much love anything with buzzards. so count me a fan!"
Me too. Ron Rash is really good at hiding murder.


message 22: by LeAnne: (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments Diane wrote: "I read an interview with Ron Rash in a magazine, and he was asked what he thought about the movie of Serena. He said he sold the rights, and never gave it another thought because it enabled him to ..."

When we did our author chat with him for book club, Serena was about four months from being released as a film and The World Made Straight was also due out shortly.

He volunteered that same info about just accepting the check and seeing where the screenwriter and director took it. One thing we did ask was if he were to have cast the film himself, would Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cook have fit his original ideas for the Pembertons. Rash said that when he heard JLaw was cast, he was initially doubtful because she was so young - he saw Serena as a much more mature woman, composed and extremely self confident. After learning about the casting, he saw the movie Winter's Bone - the adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's excellent novel and in which Lawrence starred.

He said that after seeing her performance, he was more than happy to see her cast as Serena. Despite her age, she pulled off the kind of strength and subtlety one doesn't usually find in actors that young.


message 23: by LeAnne: (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments Our real world couples book club is meeting tonight, and Joey will announce his pick for next month - this book. I had forgotten many of the little details in the story but just now realized that the boy was named Isaac.

Rash, like Michael Farris Smith, always inserts some reference that ties the deep south to the bible belt...very authentic. It's been many decades since I was a kid in Sunday School, but you might recall this. Isaac was considered a miracle child born to barren parents. Abraham and Sarah were in their 90s when God told them they'd bear a son, and voila - they did.

Isaac was also nearly killed by his own father when God asked Abraham to prove his faith (or something...I forget). As he was about to sacrifice his boy, God gave him a reprieve and let the child go.

Did any of y'all see echoes of this in Rash's story? I haven't started rereading yet and am blurry about the ending.


message 24: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenfrances) | 17 comments Really enjoyed this, great debut. And very cinematic. The first Rash I've read, and would read him again. I particularly liked Billy's chapter - his was the character most fully realised, I felt. The narrative for that chapter was so lean and deftly done. If there is criticism, for me I like my southern gothic a little more subtle, so from the moment of Mrs. Winchester going up in flames, it felt a little too Miss. Havisham for me, and made the old woman more of a caricature than a real person. And the parents drowning, well it was all just a bit too moralistically tidy... I was rather hoping for some bad blood injustice lingering devilishly over it all!


message 25: by PirateSteve (new)

PirateSteve | 21 comments Ah Ms.Helen, I agree with you there. I think the writing in this book borders on 5 stars and the story moved along just fine until those two points you've noted.
I could understand Mrs.Winchester choosing to die rather than leave her homestead but the story says her home was filled with many guns, yet she chose a death by burning ??? questionable.
Then the young son and an ageing sheriff both survive the flood waters but, next to them, the healthy middle aged couple do not.
"too moralistically tidy" sums that up very well and I felt it did not fit these characters nor this story line ... at all.


message 26: by LeAnne: (last edited Apr 20, 2018 01:50PM) (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments PirateSteve wrote: "Ah Ms.Helen, I agree with you there. I think the writing in this book borders on 5 stars and the story moved along just fine until those two points you've noted.
I could understand Mrs.Winchester ..."


The thing with Rash is that he isn't a straight up writer of American Realism. He started out as a poet, and all of his novels have symbolism, ties to local myths or Greek classics, and/or the bible in them.

Until Laura's husband Josh brought up the role of water in so many of Rash's books, I hadn't really thought about it. Water is life and death in this novel - as it is in several others. Think about the drought here, then the eventual drowning of the entire valley. The death of the couple was hinted at in the first handful of pages where he wrote about the lake being named for the Cherokee princess Jocassee and her death. Sarah talks about the river washing away guilt - it fit symbolically that the two of them would pay for their sins and be cleaned by the river.

Here - I was just looking up the name of the Cherokee princess and bumped into this. It mentions the water thing a LOT better than me or what I can recall. Rash's work is very good at skin deep, but after reading all his novels and a few of his story collections over the years, it's been in reflecting on the tale after or yakking about it with friends that kinda unpeels the thing. Like an artichoke!!! LOL http://teachersteachingwriting.pbwork...


Josh Weber got me started with the water thing...now it's y'all's turn.


Cathrine ☯️  | 555 comments Thanks for that LeAnne.
"In One Foot In Eden Ron Rash proves himself as a master of scenery and storytelling. His use of figurative language is seamless. Rash blends metaphor and simile right within dialogue and thought. It never seems forced or heavy-handed. It is so artfully natural and blended within the storyline that it could go unnoticed."
Now I really do need to read it again, all of them, because I sure didn't notice.


message 28: by LeAnne: (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments Cathrine ☯️ wrote: "Thanks for that LeAnne.
"In One Foot In Eden Ron Rash proves himself as a master of scenery and storytelling. His use of figurative language is seamless. Rash blends metaphor and simile right withi..."


He is way more clever in his writing than I ever noticed during my first reads of some of his books. Coincidentally, I was at some seminar this week where a playwright was talking, and he handed out some (dumb) three stanza poem about a guy who ate his wife's plums out of the icebox. Fifteen minutes late, when the whole format and word choice and symbolism was pointed out to me (lawd, I'm dense), I was stunned. Figurative stuff is mostly lost on me, but in poets particularly, I need to examine their words more closely. Trying to get a little deeper in my old age.


Cathrine ☯️  | 555 comments In another group on a different book we were discussing the figurative/symbolism topic and wondering if authors expect readers will pick up on it or if it's mainly for themselves and the sake of their talent.


message 30: by Dustincecil (new)

Dustincecil | 175 comments When you dam(n) a river, somebody's gonna drown.

I loved the slow rising water building the tension, in contrast to the drought. With all the mention of water and drought, I was happy to see the use of fire by the end too. The combination of the elements fire, water, and earth helped to root this story in a specific place at the same time as making it universally human.

I thought it was fitting that the old woman burned it all. Saved her the indignity of having her house smooshed by a bulldozer. I don't think a gunshot would have felt right. This woman wasn't just looking for a way to kill herself. She was seeking/ready for freedom, and a release into oblivion. what better way than - a puff of smoke.

I'm looking forward to reading more Rash, but after this, my first, my only real gripe is that I wish it was about 250 pages longer...


message 31: by LeAnne: (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments Cathrine ☯️ wrote: "In another group on a different book we were discussing the figurative/symbolism topic and wondering if authors expect readers will pick up on it or if it's mainly for themselves and the sake of th..."

What a wonderful point to ponder! Authors, I guess, have different motivations. Some years ago, Ron Rash dialed in to do an author chat w my book club and to call out the first clue for a scavenger hunt relating to his book Serena. Because it seemed polite for him to know who was gonna be in the room, while he and I were writing back and forth to coordinate, I listed the members' first names and a short bio... like, Lynn is the only natural blonde in the group. Edy is a chef who works w her husband, also a chef... Denise and hubby handle search and rescue dogs. He was SO cute... the ladies had no idea he knew this stuff, so when he was calling out team members, he said Lynn? Are you there?

She was stunned! Yes, Ron she says... Since you're the only natural blonde there, can you please be leader of Team Serena? LOL - he really paid attention to my little intros!

Out of the blue, he contacted me maybe a month later and asked if my buddy Denise would allow him to call her. Turns out, he was putting a search and rescue dog into his book and wanted to be super accurate.

They spoke, but his question was one she couldn't ask. He wanted to know, if your dog has been a cadaver dog (as hers are), after a period of years, do they lose interest? Does death's smell depress them? Well, her dogs were then only 3 and 5...so he asked if she knew somebody w older cadaver dogs. He then called THAT lady and got his answer.

If you've read his book Above the Waterfall, his fictional search and rescue dog was in there - for about two sentences. This man went to HUGE lengths to make sure that tiny little analogy (a cop getting burnt out like a dog can) made sense.

Now, nobody on earth but maybe his wife and editor know this, but it showed me that because HE knew it, it made him feel right with the world. I think he writes for himself.


message 32: by LeAnne: (new)

LeAnne: GeezerMom | 1310 comments Dustincecil wrote: "When you dam(n) a river, somebody's gonna drown.

I loved the slow rising water building the tension, in contrast to the drought. With all the mention of water and drought, I was happy to see the u..."


You and Rash seemed like a perfect match, reader to author. I'm so glad you found him!


message 33: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 1943 comments Mod
DC are you at ky book festival this weekend?


message 34: by Dustincecil (new)

Dustincecil | 175 comments Laura wrote: "DC are you at ky book festival this weekend?"

unfortunately no. I have to work.


message 35: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 1943 comments Mod
Well bills have to be paid, DC. 😉


message 36: by John (new)

John (jwarner6comcastnet) | 139 comments One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash
★★★★

Billy and Amy Holcombe want a child badly even though months of trying have proved fruitless. Sheriff Alexander believes that a local mountain ruffian has been murdered however no body can be found.

This excellent example of Southern fiction and a tale of murder is told through a series of chapters, each one a different voice. One character that did not ha voice is the Appalachia setting. Ron Rash was so skilled in bring this northwestern South Carolina environs to life, I found myself walking its wooded hills and dales. This is my first Ron Rash novel read and it won't be my last.


message 37: by B. R. (new)

B. R. Reed (mtmoon) | 113 comments Diane wrote: "I read an interview with Ron Rash in a magazine, and he was asked what he thought about the movie of Serena. He said he sold the rights, and never gave it another thought because it enabled him to ..."

Your friends gave you the right advice about the movie.


message 38: by B. R. (new)

B. R. Reed (mtmoon) | 113 comments PirateSteve wrote: "Ah Ms.Helen, I agree with you there. I think the writing in this book borders on 5 stars and the story moved along just fine until those two points you've noted.
I could understand Mrs.Winchester ..."


Mr Rash does use water as metaphor quite often. Had not really thought about it. I connected it to fishing & all his talk about brown trout. I’ll bet Ron fishes for relaxation.


message 39: by B. R. (new)

B. R. Reed (mtmoon) | 113 comments This was my first Ron Rash book and I was immediately hooked on his writing. He’s also an excellent short story writer. He’s about due for another book. I hope there is one in the works. I read somewhere that he actually purchased a property that was once owned by ancestors & he didn’t know it at the time of purchase. I thought that was perfect for him because it is abundantly clear that he is connected to his past.


message 40: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 3883 comments Mod
The movie may have stunk, but the novel of Serena was excellent!


message 41: by B. R. (new)

B. R. Reed (mtmoon) | 113 comments Diane wrote: "The movie may have stunk, but the novel of Serena was excellent!"

The movie was pretty bad in my view. Yes, the book was was excellent, a book worthy of a 2nd read.


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