The roots of Joy: Ron Rash and Western Carolina University

Acclaimed Appalachian writer and poet Ron Rash has made a substantial impact on American literature during his three-decade career, but one of his most enduring legacies may be the influence he’s had on a whole crop of younger writers, like Jackson County author David Joy.

In their words: WCU professor and alumnus nominated for Dublin Literary Award

Novels written by a Western Carolina University professor and by his former student are among the 147 titles in the running for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award, widely acknowledged as one of the top — and most lucrative — honors in the publishing world.

Ron Rash, WCU’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture, is nominated for his Above the Waterfall, while David Joy, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WCU, is among the nominees for his Where All Light Tends to Go.

The Face in the Mirror: Ron Rash releases latest novel

Can you find redemption within your own consequences?

In The Risen, the latest work from famed Southern Appalachian writer Ron Rash, the plot focuses on two Jackson County teenage brothers, an out-of-town femme fatale, and a decades-old question of what really happened to her — and also them — in the process.

Rash’s poetic prose infuses new novel

book“How near at hand it was

If they had eyes to see it.”

—G.M. Hopkins

Critics be damned, I’m watching it anyway

fr serenamovieThere are plenty of Ron Rash fans who have been waiting — and waiting — for “Serena” the movie to come out, and they won’t let all those bad reviews rain on their parade.

Hollywood take on novel a flop?

fr serenamovieJust because something looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’ll work in method.

Case in point, the new Hollywood film “Serena,” which is a silver screen adaptation of the Ron Rash novel of the same name. The book, a Great Depression-era murder drama amid the Western North Carolina logging industry, was a New York Times bestseller, with the film roping in two of the hottest stars in modern day cinema — Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Serena a thrilling mix of history and fiction for locals in the know

fr rontableLittle bits of local lore riddle the pages of Ron Rash’s Serena.

“As a fiction writer I know I am going to get things wrong, but you do the best you can to get those details as correct as possible,” Rash said. “If we can get enough things right, I think it allows the reader to stay in the dream. Very specific, authentic details allow the reader to believe everything else that is being made up.”

The logging legacy unchained: In Serena, Rash lays bare the real story of the Smokies timber boom

coverIt’s been nearly a century since the logging boom swept across Appalachia, but the story is timeless, forever engraved on the landscape and in the psyche of mountain people.

“It permanently and irrevocably changed the entire face of Western North Carolina,” said Jason Brady, a special collections librarian at Western Carolina University.

SEE ALSO:
Serena a thrilling mix of history and fiction
Hollywood take on novel a flop?
Critics be damned, I’m watching it anyway

In search of the perfect word

coverThe beauty of literature is its solely unique power of transportation.

That beauty lies in the meticulous arrangement of words, phrases and sentences on a simple black and white page, where upon decoding the message you conjure endless colors, scents and landscapes. You find yourself walking the streets of far away places in forgotten eras, faces and voices long since put six feet under, all covered up in dust under the bed of a modern world. 

The key to opening the portals to these places lies in the fingertips of the writer. Sitting down and letting the images in your mind pour out onto the blank page is a sacred act, one where you let the story unfold in front of you rather than racing to find a conclusion. Crafting a story is a delicate and often misunderstood process. To find the perfect word, one must travel to the deepest, darkest corners of their soul, in search of the ideal conflict that is located at the foundation of every great story.

Rash’s Appalachia is both rich and flawed

bookRon Rash’s latest collection of short stories echos a theme that runs through all of his works: an awareness that Appalachia is in transition, that it is becoming something else. Of course, this is a quality that is shared by all things — what the poets call “mutability” — but in this instance, the author is mindful of what our world is becoming in contrast to what it once was. Like the drowned girl in his short story by the same title, Appalachia may be undergoing a “sea change” and will emerge as “something rich and strange.” The substance may be alien, repugnant and/or fascinating.

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