Review: Burning Bright
Burning Bright is a short story collection by Ron Rash. These twelve stories are connected by place rather than by time or characters. They’re all set in Appalachia, so they’re a little dark and a few are somewhat disturbing. These are important stories, though, because they give a voice to some of the most oppressed and poor people in our country.
I used to think that I didn’t enjoy short stories, but lately I’ve come to have an affinity for them. They’re wonderful for when life is busy and you only have short periods of time to read – you can read a whole story in one sitting and don’t have to reacquaint yourself with characters when you have time to pick your book back up.
I found Burning Bright to be a wonderful book! Rash gets the proud spirit and dialogue of the Appalachian people perfect. I do have to warn animal lovers that there’s a scene in the first story, Hard Times, that might disturb you – that story made me cringe more than once, but it was one of my favorite in the book. Set during the Depression, it perfectly portrays the spirit of the time and its people. Some other highlights of the book are:
- Back of the Beyond – The story of meth addiction and what it can do to a family. This is a relevant story since methamphetamine seems to be such a horrible problem in rural America.
- Dead Confederates – The main character decides to help rob the graves of Confederate soldiers to pay his mother’s medical bills.
- Burning Bright – After a rash of arson fires in the area, a woman is forced to defend her new (and younger) husband.
- The Corpse Bird – A young father becomes convinced that a child in his neighborhood will die if the owl perched in the tree in his backyard isn’t killed.
I enjoyed the whole collection, but Hard Times and The Corpse Bird lingered in my mind for days. I found myself thinking about them and mulling them over quite often. If you’re interested in short stories or Appalachia, this collection is a must read!
Since Ron Rash was born in South Carolina this counts as part of the Literary Road Trip.