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The Cove


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About the Author

Ron Rash is an award-winning poet, short story writer and author of the internationally acclaimed and prize-winning novels Serena and One Foot in Eden.


Tucked in the Appalachian Mountains is a cursed, shadowy place-the cove. This is where Laurel Shelton lives with her brother, Hank. Laurel's life has been tough and lonely. The curse claimed her parents and left her with an odd, isolating birthmark. Hank returned one-handed from World War I and is fixing up the farm when Laurel finds a mute stranger playing beautifully sad flute music in the woods. As these three work to dream of a happy life beyond the cove, events twist and reassert reality with brutal force. Narrator Merritt Hicks delivers a believable story. Though the action drags a bit in the middle, the ending is masterful, and details such as those relating to the North Carolina parakeet are well woven throughout. VERDICT This would make a great work for discussion. Fans of Rash's Serena or stories set in Appalachia will particularly enjoy this one. ["Rash brings the various narrative threads of his story together...with formidable strength and pathos. Essential for fans of literary fiction," read the review of the Ecco: HarperCollins hc, LJ 10/15/11.-Ed.]-Lisa Anderson, Metropolitan Community Coll. Lib., Omaha (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Veteran novelist Rash (Serena) knits his newest rustic yarn in North Carolina during WWI. Located near the hardscrabble village of Mars Hill, the cove is shrouded in superstition, "a place where ghosts and fetches wandered." Nearby, the alienated Laurel Shelton lives with her wounded war veteran brother in an isolated cabin. While out doing laundry by the creek one day, Laurel discovers Walter Smith, an illiterate, mute flutist en route to New York City, who has been incapacitated by hornet stings. As she nurses the mysterious Walter back to health, Laurel begins to fall in love. "Waiting for her life to begin," she clings to Walter and the future he represents. However, local Army recruiter Chauncey Feith threatens to ruin all that Laurel and Walter hope for. A rabid anti-German agitator, he begins to suspect that Walter is not who he claims to be. Driven by fear, patriotism, and bloodlust, Chauncey progresses from arrogant drunk to a craven yet dangerous force. The gripping plot, gothic atmosphere, and striking descriptions, in particular of the dismal cove, make this a top-notch story of an unusual place and its fated and fearful denizens. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Associates Inc. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

'This novel confirms Rash's status as a master of that dark regional tradition that has distinguished American fiction since Mark Twain.' Weekend Australian 'Cormac McCarthy has made a good living, hard-earned and richly deserved, out of his mordant, bewildered, sceptical take on American history. Ron Rash may not enjoy the same popularity (yet). but he does demonstrate, repeatedly, a comparable force of expression, a remarkable depth of feeling and most of all a deep and abiding sense of tragedy.' Canberra Times 'Few writers do dark American gothic as capably as Rash.' Qantas: The Australian Way 'Rash writes with brutal honesty about the difficulty of a life spent in constant battle with the land and the seasons, the petty cruelties we inflict upon each other and the injustices of a seemingly indifferent fate. But he also celebrates the goodness of people, the small kindness that sustain us, and the moments of pleasure in the natural world.' Otago Daily Times 'A tragic, evocative tale, in which history, nature and the gothic blend seamlessly.' Sun Herald 'The Cove is in some ways Steinbeck-esque, with tough characters enduring grinding poverty and living in the shadow of inflexible community values. This is a beautiful, dark story, crafted with painful honesty and an eye on crafting and atmosphere the reader can see, hear and taste.' Courier Mail 'The greatest pleasure in it for me was the clear, rather mannered cadence of the prose and the author's fine ear for the speech rhythms of the rural South.' -- Ursula Le Guin Guardian 'Rash draws on the darkest elements of the fairy tale and the devices of light and shadow, romance and vengeance, while refraining from the stock sexualisation introduced by many contemporary writers...This very fine, dignified, almost stately novel speaks from another time and does so with rare conviction.' Irish Times '...one of the most exciting American writers at work.' Sydney Morning Herald 'The Cove is a a work of intelligence, emotion and, most importantly, sublime storytelling.' Gold Coast Bulletin

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