Literary critics loving new book by WCU’s Ron Rash

As filming begins on a motion picture based on one of his earlier novels, Ron Rash is collecting his usual basketful of rosy reviews for his latest release, the short story collection “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” But Rash says he hasn’t read any of the literary critics’ comments, unless it’s by accident.

Western Carolina University’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture says he used to read reviews early in his writing career, but now the only ones he sees are the unsolicited reviews that people send to him. “Not much good comes from it,” Rash says of the practice. “I found out it makes me self-conscious as a writer, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

Ron Rash's new book contains 14 short stories that range in background from the Civil War to a modern-day casino.

Ron Rash’s new book contains 14 short stories that range in background from the Civil War to a modern-day casino.

Released in February by Ecco/Harper Collins, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” contains 14 stories that range in background from the Civil War to a modern-day North Carolina mountain casino. The book title comes from a Robert Frost poem of the same name.

In one of the earliest reviews of the book, Janet Maslin, literary critic for The New York Times, wrote that the stories in Rash’s new work are “excitingly versatile” and “united by clean, tough specificity, courtly backwoods diction and a capacity for sending shivers.” USA Today reviewer Bob Minzesheimer wrote: “A terrible beauty, to use Yeats’ poetic phrase, colors many of Ron Rash’s stories filled with violence, dark humor and surprise endings. His prose is spare, clean and often haunting.”

Rash’s 14 published works include 10 books of fiction (five novels and five books of short stories) and four volumes of poetry. On leave from his teaching duties at WCU this semester, Rash said he is currently concentrating on writing short stories, with no new novels in the works. He recently returned from Belgium and The Netherlands, where he attended a literary festival and went on a quick book tour, and when contacted he was preparing for a trip to Florida, Mississippi and Washington, D.C. Book-related activities will take him back to Europe – to Ireland and England – later this spring.

As Rash travels away from his mountain homeland in book-promotion activities, a production crew has settled into the Asheville area to make a movie based on his 2006 novel “The World Made Straight.” What entertainment publications are describing as a “low-budget feature film,” “The World Made Straight” is being produced by Dreambridge Films and Myriad Pictures. The drama will be directed by Raleigh native David Burris, executive producer of the CBS reality show “Survivor” and grandson of a former president of Wingate University. The movie will star Minka Kelly, Noah Wyle and Jeremy Irvine.

Rash, who takes a hands-off approach when Hollywood turns his books into movies, said he was pleased to hear that almost all the filming for “The World Made Straight” will be done in Buncombe and Madison counties. Filming for a movie adaption of Rash’s bestselling novel “Serena” took place about one year ago in the Czech Republic, with Hollywood A-listers Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in the starring roles. Rash said he was glad to hear recently that some footage for “Serena” was actually shot in the Cataloochee Valley in Haywood County.

The movie “Serena” is scheduled for distribution in September.

Ron Rash

Ron Rash