Whooosh…or perhaps a sharp ssshliiiice…it’s almost easier to describe the pulpy energy of Ron Rash’s prose in Above the Waterfall with sounds. The words jump from the page, they grind and they bite. They sing. They are felt. And from the first paragraph on, I was swept up and away. But this is no fairytale. A story of rural life colliding with the grit of modernity, Rash, whose prizewinning work includes the bestselling novel Serena and The Cove, weaves together the past and present with poetry and grace while confronting the ugliness of a small town in North Carolina tormented by meth addiction and poverty.
I particularly love small town settings as characters are thrust into moments of often unwanted intimacy, leading to memories long-hidden bubbling back to the surface. So it is with Sheriff Les and Park Ranger Becky, the former soon to retire, worn by the daily degradation of the place he loves, the latter haunted by past trauma who finds solace in the poetry and solitude of nature. As a mutual friend is accused of poisoning the stream of a nearby resort—one of the town’s few remaining vestiges of prosperity, and thusly of power—the characters are forced to question long-held allegiances and revisit pasts better left behind.
Come for the prose, stay for the haunting setting, complex characters, the whirling tension as the main conflict builds…I could keep this list going. Author Richard Price describes Rash as “a gorgeous, brutal writer.” Gorgeous and brutal is as apt a description as I’ve seen. I hope you’ll see for yourself. Click here to check out the egalley now available on Edelweiss.