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The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth and Other Stories from Cliffside, North Carolina Paperback – 1 Sep 1994
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These ten short stories, narrated by three citizens of Cliffside, NC evolve into a novella. Mr. Rash has an ear for earthy dialogue and his characters are real enough for anyone who has spent time among the haves and have-nots of Appalachia. His sight, sound and smell of a small mountain community rings true. There is humor in these pages touched with irony and unspoken sadness.
"There are people in this world who can be happy only if they are unhappy, " he writes, "Unfortunately, these people never want to be happy in their unhappiness alone. So they marry people like Homer."
All too rare in this work are the superbly crafted lines like the above but there is enough here to conclude that this and his other works should be read. In truth I can not say that these stories had the weight and subtly of "Speckled Trout" but I did enjoy them and fully plan to continue to read his work.
Those interested in the genre are also referred to the fine work being done by Bob Sloan, a very talented good old boy from Kentucky.
This, oddly, was the volume of his I read last. Rash loves words: he uses with them precision and care. His prose feels as carved as much as written. Like D.H. Lawrence, Rash grips his subject with both head and heart; a combination rarely seen, and even more rarely seen in balance. Religion, passion, the grip of history: they're all here in these tales. If the stories aren't as polished as those in Casualties, and his new collection Chemistry (shortlisted recently for the PEN/Faulkner award), they're still work of a different calibre. I urge your attention towards them.