On the Southern Literary Trail discussion

The Cove
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Group Reads: Post-1990 > Initial Impressions: The Cove: May 2018

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Tom Mathews | 2748 comments Mod
Comments on this board should be written with the assumption that not all readers have finished the book. Please avoid revealing any spoilers.


Tina  | 488 comments This was my first Ron Rash book. I was an instant fan.


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Laura | 2276 comments Mod
It’s always interesting to see what different readers started with when they first read Rash. This one is in my top 3 of his.


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments I read Serena first, then all of his short stories, then this one. I am going to try and read it again as it's been long enough but my current state of reading challenges is a bit out of control.


Connie G (connie_g) | 506 comments "Serena" was my first Ron Rash book. I just started "The Cove" tonight and am already hooked.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Tell me the woman’s name again, please.. its been years since I read this one. Also, ladies - how well do you think he captures her thoughts? Not all writers can legitimately write for the other gender - Daniel Woodrell and Michael Farris Smith and Ann Patchett are known for that skill. Whatcha think of Mr Rash?


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Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
This is one I haven't read yet. I started with Serena. Bought this one from Amazon a couple of years ago for $1.99 and never got to it. Happy it won the poll.


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Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "This is one I haven't read yet. I started with Serena. Bought this one from Amazon a couple of years ago for $1.99 and never got to it. Happy it won the poll."

I'll be starting this in a few days. This is the lone Rash novel I haven't read. Looking forward to our read of this one!


Wyndy | 241 comments I read Serena first, then One Foot In Eden.
Will be starting The Cove in a few days and hope it's as good as the prior two.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Look for Carolina canaries in here. I believe this is the first book where he mentions them, but they are a real thing - possibly extinct now.


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Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
LeAnne wrote: "Look for Carolina canaries in here. I believe this is the first book where he mentions them, but they are a real thing - possibly extinct now."

Yes, LeAnne. I believe they are Carolina Parakeets. And, unfotunately, they are now extinct. Audobon's Print of them is stunning.


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Laura | 2276 comments Mod
Wait, I think the parakeets are in taylor browns new book. Can anyone confirm?


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments I cannot confirm about the TB book but those parakeets showed up in another book I read, I think maybe The Secret Wisdom of the Earth but I could not swear to it. They were very beautiful.


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Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
Yes Laura, they were in "God's of Howl Mountain".


Connie G (connie_g) | 506 comments Here's some photos of the Carolina Parakeets from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolin...

They were such colorful birds.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments In addition to including them in his novels, Ron Rash wrote a poem about them.

Carolina Parakeet
Though once plentiful enough
to pulse an acre field, green
a blue sky, they were soon gone,
whole flocks slaughtered in a day,
though before forever lost
found last here, in these mountains
so sparsely settled a man
late as 1860 might
look up from new-broken land
and glimpse that bright vanishing.


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments Have any of you read his book of poems? I'm wondering why I haven't checked them out. I thought Above the Waterfall was one of if not his most poetic novel.
LeAnne you have inspired me. Thinking I will purchase Poems: New and Selected from Amazon.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Cathrine ☯️ wrote: "Have any of you read his book of poems? I'm wondering why I haven't checked them out. I thought Above the Waterfall was one of if not his most poetic novel.
LeAnne you have inspired me. Thinking I..."


Cathrine, I'm honestly too shallow in the literary sense to appreciate poetry other than in the occasional foray. He got his start, I believe, in poetry and you're right about Above the Waterfall. He was late delivering the book to his publisher when he dialed in with us for our author chat, and in fact, had only written the point of view of the soon-to-retire sheriff.

He was not altogether pleased with it - which is why he didn't turn it in. In the handful of months after our discussion, he inserted the POV of the female forest ranger and made her a poet. I read somewhere in an interview that this particular book was HIS. Poetry isn't the most commercial thing in the world, but it was really pleasing to see him add Becky's journal entries and those lines. I read it in hard back and loved seeing how he made the alignment of the text look like drawings or symbols.

Please let us all know what you think when you've finished!


Tina  | 488 comments Cathrine ☯️ wrote: "Have any of you read his book of poems? I'm wondering why I haven't checked them out. I thought Above the Waterfall was one of if not his most poetic novel.
LeAnne you have inspired me. Thinking I..."


I’m not a big poetry fan, but Ron Rash’s poetry is an exception.


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments I will let you know my thoughts; purchased it after I posted.
I agree with Tina. I'm also "shallow" when it comes to poetry but from the little I've read of RR's I think I'll be okay. I also love Mary Oliver's prose.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Here's a tidbit for what to look out for in Rash's novels...the interview is in the link below.

"RR: Yes, I’m very fond of mythology, as is obvious in The Cove where I evoke the Orpheus myth, and in Serena, Galloway’s mother is definitely a seer in the sense you describe. I think I tend to use maimed characters with the idea that the world they inhabit is wounded.

In One Foot in Eden, I wanted Billy to evoke the Fisher King in Grail mythology; he is wounded and the land is dying. Yes, I love to integrate those aspects into my work; I don’t want it to be heavy-handed, but I want it to be there."

https://journals.openedition.org/tran...


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 5 comments I found a copy of this through Scribd, so I look forward to joining in. It'll be my first Rash.
I just read a little about him on Poetry Foundation. I was intrigued to read that the other book by him the group is currently reading 'One Foot in Eden' started out as a poem and just kept growing.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Jenny wrote: "I found a copy of this through Scribd, so I look forward to joining in. It'll be my first Rash.
I just read a little about him on Poetry Foundation. I was intrigued to read that the other book by ..."


Jenny, he goes back and forth on his forms. The novel Serena was predated by a short story called Pemberton's Bride. As the book is one of my favorites, I got my hands on the short story and found all the various names of the characters inside. They were, however, shuffled differently from those in the book.

Because of the release dates on the story and then the novel, I thought it was the seed of the novel. Instead, it turned out that while he was working on an earlier draft of the novel, he excerpted ideas from it and put it into the short story.

Now you've got me curious! It will be interesting to see how the poem and the novel differ!


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments Sharing from Poems: New and Selected

I'm thinking Rash may deserve his own permanent SLT thread since we seem incapable of confining his talents.

The night smooths out its black tarp,
tacks it to the sky with stars.
Lake waves slap the bank,
define a shoreline as one man casts
his seine into the unseen.
Lifts the net's pale bloom, and spills
of threadfin fill the live well.
Soon that squared pool of water
flickers as if a mirror.
surfaces memory of when
this deep water was a sky.
😍


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Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
Besides his fiction and poetry, he is also amazingly funny. His book of short stories, "The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth" is my favorite collection, and most of them are hilarious. I've also read some magazine articles by him that are fall out of the chair funny. And if you get a chance to see him in person, be prepared to laugh.


message 26: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
I got started on The Cove yesterday, and really like it so far. He wrote this after Serena, but I'm glad I waited to read it. It's been long enough now that I won't compare the two.


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Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
Two examples of Rash's poetry in his prose, from The Cove.

"I'd think it could make you feel a lavish of aloneness."

" But just hearing music, even the saddest sort of song, lets you know you're not all of every way alone, that someone else has known the likesomeness of what you have".


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Diane wrote: "Two examples of Rash's poetry in his prose, from The Cove.

"I'd think it could make you feel a lavish of aloneness."

" But just hearing music, even the saddest sort of song, lets you know you'r..."


Lovely.


Camie | 105 comments I liked One Foot In Eden and The Risen better than Under The Waterfall. Just getting started on this one so hopefully it's good . I have Serena around here somewhere but I've had a hard time getting to it while trying to keep up with my quite diverse club reads. I missed Serena on the Trail , I believe the first time around.


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Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
Camie, I like his earlier stuff much better. I really did not care for either The Risen or Under the Waterfall. Not bad, just not what I have come to expect from him.


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments I too was not smitten with The Risen. It reminded me of those new albums I hear from a favorite artist from time to time that sound forced -- like they were under contract to get it done but the muse was not showing up. I forgive them because of all the great ones.


message 32: by Judi (last edited May 02, 2018 05:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judi | 465 comments Diane wrote: "Besides his fiction and poetry, he is also amazingly funny. His book of short stories, "The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth" is my favorite collection, and most of them are hilarious. I've also r..."

I am quite smitten by Ron Rash in general. I am a big fan of short stories. I shall check out The Night the New Jesus Fell To Earth. That's why I love this group. I constantly find a new read to chase.


Beverly | 192 comments I started this yesterday. I am enjoying this so far and I am learning about things of which I was unaware which is one of my main reasons for reading.


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments Well, I was going to start it but just could not put off Michael Farris Smith any longer. So far he is delivering the goods. :D


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Janice (JG) | 136 comments I kind of hated the way the book begins... it planted a sense of dread throughout the whole story.


message 36: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
When you read the description of the darkness of the cove, you know there will be trouble.


Camie | 105 comments Leanne to answer your question it's Laurel (and Walter and Laurel's brother Hank)
I think it's the beautiful May days and the garden calling me, but I'm having a hard time getting through this. And yes it does start out with a foreboding sense of doom, but it's taking a meandering path to get there.


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Judi | 465 comments Diane wrote: "When you read the description of the darkness of the cove, you know there will be trouble."

I feel the trouble comin' based on the description of the cove. You are spot on.


Jenny (jeoblivion) | 5 comments I've started this yesterday and the first thing I noticed was
'A note on the revisions to this edition' explaining that it differs from the the hardcover in that he removed 2 chapters and several paragraphes. It's not done too often I imagine, to revise a book shortly after it's been published. I wonder whether we're all reading the same version and in how much it affects the story.

I am not far into the book at all, but I like the way he lets the reader in quite slowly. We get the watch the characters for a while without really knowing much about them until he slowly trickles in their story and background.

I really liked both the poem and the poetry in prose shared earlier, thanks Catherine and Diane! I decided to get his
Poems: New and Selected and I shall dip a toe or two into it while reading The Cove.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments When y’all finish and come over to the other discussion, you’ll see what the dimness of this cove parallels. Upon looking back, you may see it as perfect. I find that many of my favorite books take a day or so of pondering to fully set in. Discussing those sorts of reads with friends makes the reading experience even richer!


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Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
My book had the same explanation about revisions, and they concerned the character of Chauncey Feith, making him not quite as one sided as the original.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Diane wrote: "My book had the same explanation about revisions, and they concerned the character of Chauncey Feith, making him not quite as one sided as the original."

That is really unusual for a book. It reminds me of how RR was behind in submitting Above the Waterfall but didn't care about the deadline as he wasn't happy with his first version.

Also, what is interesting is his choice of certain names... Laurel (thanks for reminding me of her name) like mountain laurel. Feith pronounced Faith. Smith - what a common name.


Howard | 500 comments Diane wrote: "My book had the same explanation about revisions, and they concerned the character of Chauncey Feith, making him not quite as one sided as the original."

I have a hardcover copy of the book and therefore I must have the one-sided version of Chauncey. (view spoiler)


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments My copy says first edition so I've got the one sided CF.


message 45: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
In my version, you do feel just the tiniest bit of sympathy for Chauncey.


Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments Just through chapter 8 and my mind was a wandering and I was getting tripped up with back and forth 'fyce' and 'fife.'
I have a feist but had never encountered fyce and spell check has an issue with all three.
Very clever to tie the shirt on the dog and get the sheriff off track.


message 47: by Cathrine ☯️ (last edited May 08, 2018 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cathrine ☯️  | 750 comments Jenny I'm about 25% into the poems and you will no doubt enjoy and appreciate them. So many trails weave through them that you encounter in his novels.

The Debt

We want him to have the best,
they told Barney Hampton
as he led them to a room where
coffins lay open on shelves
like traps waiting to be sprung,
but because he'd always been
an honest man, and because
he knew how little cabbage
and tobacco brought even
in good years, Barney Hampton
passed copper, stainless steel,
stopped
where he could make his pitch for
wood's varnished solidity,
but my uncle and aunt said
what they'd said before, then spent
half a decade stooped in fields
so each fall one more ticket
in the coupon book might be
torn out to pay for what they'd
sown, deeper than any seed.


This brought back the time my mother died. She had no assets and her four children didn't either at the time. A very practical woman who did not believe in wasting money on fancy things so we purchased a very simple casket, splurged on flowers and shipped her back to Minnesota where our grandmother waited on the farm. I was at the funeral home with her when it was time to purchase the required vault container before burial. "Barney Hampton" was "pitching" her the choices which ranged in price and she was not sure what to do. I was trying to convey to her that mom would want the one that matched her casket but she ended up buying the most expensive one. Later I would wonder what all those simple farm people thought of our choice of inexpensive casket (and how we dressed her 😱) as it sat there in the church; that perhaps they may have felt there was no honor in our selection.
This poem brought it all back. Rash can tell a story in a few sentences.


Wyndy | 241 comments Has anyone else struggled to get into this book? I love the two Rash books I've read so far, but this one is not speaking to me. It's feeling overly descriptive and disjointed. Maybe it's my timing? Comments/encouragement welcome.


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Diane Barnes | 4408 comments Mod
Wyndy, the opening section is setting the scene with all the description of the area, and especially the isolation and darkness of the farm. And the feeling of the townspeople about the family and their suspicion of the girl. It definitely gets more interesting.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Wyndy, RR spins some of his stories as retellings of various old myths or legends. In Serena, lots of folks thought it tied to Macbeth as he even used the device of a “chorus of fools.” Shakespeare’s Macbeth actually was a twist on the older Greek story of Medea. The title character Serena even quoteswhat to most of us sounded like an obscure line of Greek poetry, but she was actually reciting a phrase from Medea. Im a total dullard when it comes to being well read, so I ended up googling the line to figure out where it was from and what it might mean. Ding!! The penny finally dropped for me!

Likewise, The Cove is tied to the Greek myth of Orpheus. The main character in the myth goes on a mission to deliver someone he loves from the dark underworld of Hades. What you’re accurately noting about the description of the setting in this deep cove is how he is conveying the dismal creepiness of the underworld. Somebody in the story will try to bring a resident of this place out and up into life’s sunshine.

I hope that’s not a spoiler! There is a forward (I think - am yakking from memory) that mentions some reference to Orpheus. Or something.

Once you finish the book and come to the other side with us, you will see how the tie was done very well.


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