Although I was already familiar with his work, I first met Ron maybe 6 years ago when we both taught for 3 weeks in the South Governor's School for the Arts Summer Program. He taught fiction, while I handled the poetry for the creative writing students. One of the most gifted of those students, Sarah Saylor, enrolled at USC, and I've run into her several times at readings on campus.
At Ron's library reading yesterday, which I attended with Janne, he was his usual relaxed and articulate self, his distinct Appalachian drawl spinning out stories both funny and poignant as he set up readings from two published novels and one forthcoming novel, the be called Serena. The longest piece he read was from the new novel, and it was about a strong woman, Serena, married to a timber baron, who is as adept at timber work as any of the men in their employ. Ron read a section about how she brought an eagle into the mountains and trained it to attack the rattlesnakes that were such a scourge in the woods. In the Q and A following, speaking of research, Ron told how he tracked down one of the few men who still hunts with eagles, corresponding with him and then I suppose visiting him to find out more about this arcane art. He said when you're doing research on a topic, the best thing to do is to find the person who's fanatical about it, who thinks it's the most important thing in the world, and you get your material from that source.
After responding to the inevitable question about his influences, he noted that he keeps a photo of Flannery O'Connor above his writing desk and imagines that every day she tells him, "You ain't there yet, boy." I can't wait to read Ron's new book of stories, Chemistry and Other Stories, due out next month--and then the novel, which won't be out for another year or so.
Ten Poems by Ron Rash
"The Exchange" in Poetry 180
2004 Interview with Rash
2005 Interview with Rash
Another 2005 Interview with Rash
Reviews of The World Made Straight