In the Valley: Stories and a Novella Based on Serena (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Describing Ron Rash’s work as “dark” is kind of like describing the night sky as “dark.” Yes, it’s true, but it misses the point. It’s what we discover in the dark that gives the darkness meaning. It’s the stars we seek, not the dead space between them. And fans of Ron Rash are certainly aware of the countless constellations scattered throughout his vast and varied body of work.

In his newest collection of stories called In the Valley: Stories and a Novella Based on Serena and now available in paperback, we follow the light of his luminous prose once again ever deeper into this shimmering darkness. There we find a cast of characters, some familiar, some strange, flickering before us. The faces of a few glow with a quiet grace; others burn with malign intent.  Our attention, however, is helplessly drawn to a mysterious lady in the back who surveys all before her with a mocking gleam in her eye. We feel a shiver run through us under the heavy pall of her gaze.

Of course, Rash soon makes us realize that the darkness we’re standing in is simply the darkness in ourselves. Each of his books is a baptism of sorts into this darkness, his incantatory language leading us further and further down into the story and into ourselves. When we finally emerge once again into the light, we struggle to find words for the beauty we’ve found. We merely shake our heads in wonder and know ourselves to be, for a moment, as vast as the sky.

— Brian


From the New York Times bestselling, award-winning writer of Serena

One of the great American authors at work today (The New York Times) gives us a short story collection of haunting allegories about the times we live in--from the perils of capitalism to the extraordinary acts of decency and heroism that exist within them--and the return of the villainess who propelled Rash's famed Serena to national acclaim.

Ron Rash has long been a revered presence in the landscape of American letters. A virtuosic novelist, poet, and story writer, he evokes the beauty and brutality of the land, the relentless tension between past and present, and the unquenchable human desire to be a little bit better than circumstances would seem to allow.

In these ten stories, Rash, a gorgeous, brutal writer (Richard Price) working at the height of his powers, has created a mesmerizing look at the imperfect world around us, from the severing of ties to the natural world in the relentless hunt for profit to the destruction of body and soul with pills meant to mute our pain.

Rash's stories are unforgettable--Baptism was chosen by Roxane Gay for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 2018, and Neighbors was selected by Jonathan Lethem for The Best American Mystery Stories 2019. And in revisiting Serena Pemberton, Rash updates his bestselling parable of greed run amok as his deliciously vindictive heroine returns to the North Carolina wilderness she left scarred and desecrated to make one final effort to kill the child that threatens all she has accomplished.

About the Author

RON RASH is the author of the PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to the critically acclaimed novels The Risen, Above the Waterfall, The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, Nothing Gold Can Stay, a New York Times bestseller, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize and winner of the 2019 Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature, he is the Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University and lives in Clemson, SC.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525564225
ISBN-10: 0525564225
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publication Date: July 13th, 2021
Pages: 240
Language: English