Chemistry And Other Stories

Book Review by Willard Manus

The hardscrabble world of Appalachia comes to grim but compelling life in CHEMISTRY AND OTHER STORIES, a collection of stories by Ron Rash (Picador Books). Rash writes about the suffering endured by the Appalachians, a tough, resourceful, mountain-dwelling people who look askance on strangers and lawmen, preferring to cope with life's vissicitudes on their own. In the book's thirteen stories, things like grief, injustice, drug abuse, mental illness, poverty and class struggle dog them; sometimes they fight back and are the better for it, other times they battle and go down in painful defeat.

Rash writes simply but powerfully and compassionately. His characters are always three-dimensional, even the villains--of whom there are many in that part of the USA. CHEMISTRY AND OTHER STORIES is a memorable collection of stories.