Above the Waterfall: A Novel

Above the Waterfall: A Novel

by Ron Rash

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

“Rash captures the gritty realities of modern Appalachia with mournful precision...the novel contemplates timeless questions about human frailty, the divinity of nature and the legacies of our native landscapes.” -Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A poetic and haunting tale set in contemporary Appalachia, New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash illuminates lives shaped by violence and a powerful connection to the land.

Les, a long-time sheriff just three-weeks from retirement, contends with the ravages of crystal meth and his own duplicity in his small Appalachian town.

Becky, a park ranger with a harrowing past, finds solace amid the lyrical beauty of this patch of North Carolina.

Enduring the mistakes and tragedies that have indelibly marked them, they are drawn together by a reverence for the natural world. When an irascible elderly local is accused of poisoning a trout stream, Les and Becky are plunged into deep and dangerous waters, forced to navigate currents of disillusionment and betrayal that will force them to question themselves and test their tentative bond—and threaten to carry them over the edge.

Echoing the heartbreaking beauty of William Faulkner and the spiritual isolation of Carson McCullers, Above the Waterfall demonstrates once again the prodigious talent of “a gorgeous, brutal writer” (Richard Price) hailed as “one of the great American authors at work today” (Janet Maslin, New York Times).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062349323
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 507,665
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four prizewinning novels, including 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, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.

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Above the Waterfall: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
See above...
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“Though sunlight tinges the mountains, black leather-winged bodies swing low. First fireflies blink languidly. Beyond this meadow, cicadas rev and slow like sewing machines. All else is ready for night except night itself. I watch the last light lift off level land. Ground shadows seep and thicken. Circling trees form banks. The meadow itself becomes a pond filling, on its surface dozens of black-eyed susans” This, the first paragraph of Ron Rash’s sixth novel, assures readers that they are, once again, in for a feast of beautiful prose. While his evocative descriptions of place confirm Rash’s love of the Appalachia, this award-winning American author works the same magic on his characters, and not just the major ones. Be they strong or weak, principled or easily corrupted, it soon becomes apparent that he cares just as much for the people that populate the North Carolina mountains. His tale covers a five-day period during which Les, a sheriff about to retire, deals not only with meth addicts, but also a fish-kill at a local upmarket Resort. It seems from video evidence and earlier confrontations that Gerald Blackwelder, an elderly widower with a bad heart, is responsible. But Becky Shytle, the Park Ranger with whom Les has a tentative relationship, is convinced that Gerald is innocent. Of course, Les knows that Becky has been wrong about a man before. This novel is not about the mystery, the who of which is relatively obvious, the how and why, fairly easily solved, but about the characters and their interaction. The first person narrative is shared by Les and Becky: distinguishing between the two is easy when one pays attention to the context; but Rash also uses different styles of narrative, giving Becky a much more lyrical voice, a poetic way with words. Les muses: “You can see heaven all around us, Preacher Waldorp claimed. But Mist Creek Valley would soon confirm that the same was true of hell”, while Becky describes her night under the stars thus: “Above me that night, tiny lights brightened and dimmed, brightened and dimmed. Photinus carolinus. Fireflies synchronized to make a single meadow-wide flash, then all dark between. Like being inside the earth’s pulsing heart” Rash touches on a myriad of topics: depression, guilt, post-traumatic stress, the divide between legal and moral, loyalty, and the strength of the bond with place. “I’d seen others besides C.J.’s great-uncle leave houses where they and their families had lived for generations. They’d enter nursing homes or move in with sons or daughters. Like I told C.J., you’d be going to their funerals within six months” Readers new to Rash’s work are sure to want to seek out his backlist; fans will not be disappointed with this latest work. A brilliant read.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I 'found' this southern Appalachian author after reading a biography - actually a collection of interviews over several years, which is my most favorite sort of biography lately - at my local library. Ron Rash writes with a paintbrush. You can close your eyes, and 'be there' in the North Carolina mountains with Les and Becky, carrying their emotional baggage and finding solace and ease in the wildness of their country. There is a rhythmic poetry about this writing that finds a resonance in my heart. This is a novel that will wake you up, make you appreciative of your little dramas and and more forgiving of your big ones. The thing I found most distressing about this tale is the fact that I had labeled meth a city problem. It is a 2017 problem even my little city, Alamogordo, NM has to contend with, but I picture it as stopping at the 7,000 foot elevation markers. My Sacramento mountains, 20 miles distant and 3 miles up, are very sparsely populated, mostly by contemporaries of mine (read old and retired). I travel there often, wandering back roads and 'breathing' in the joy of 9,000 feet. I will have to look at it, differently now, have to get involved. Thank you, Ron Rash.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
My favorite thing about Ron Rash's writing is that it feels first and foremost like a love note to the Appalachians, at least the books I have read do. This particular story takes place in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains and having witnessed the magnificence of that area myself, I found Mr. Rash's words even more beautiful. Threads of poetry are weaved throughout this book, most paying tribute to the exquisite wonder of nature. These were my favorite parts. Serena is my favorite Ron Rash book hands down, but Above the Waterfall comes in at a close second. The storyline itself presents a mystery, but there are many elements that make this book so much more. The character development is intense given the simplicity of the story, and the world building of this small, very flawed town provided it's own kind of dark beauty. The writing is lyrical and the audiobook narration almost lulled me to sleep several times. It was a pleasant experience :) If you enjoy Ron Rash's writing, then don't miss this one! My favorite quote: "I had been bad to sleepwalk as a kid. There were times, for some reason always in the summer, I'd make my way out of the house and end up in the yard. Folks back then, or at least country folks, didn't see the need for a porch bulb burning all night. I'd open my eyes and there'd be nothing but darkness, like the world had slipped its leash and run away, taking everything with it except me. Then I'd hear a whippoorwill or a jarfly or feel the dew dampening my feet, or I'd look up and find the stars tacked to the sky where they always were, only the moon roaming. I turned off to the main road, drove back toward town, all the while remembering what it had felt like when the world you knew had up and vanished and you needed to find something to bring that world back and you weren't sure that you could." Note: Any errors in spelling/punctuation in the above quote are mine. I typed this quote while listening via audiobook.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
My favorite thing about Ron Rash's writing is that it feels first and foremost like a love note to the Appalachians, at least the books I have read do. This particular story takes place in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains and having witnessed the magnificence of that area myself, I found Mr. Rash's words even more beautiful. Threads of poetry are weaved throughout this book, most paying tribute to the exquisite wonder of nature. These were my favorite parts. Serena is my favorite Ron Rash book hands down, but Above the Waterfall comes in at a close second. The storyline itself presents a mystery, but there are many elements that make this book so much more. The character development is intense given the simplicity of the story, and the world building of this small, very flawed town provided it's own kind of dark beauty. The writing is lyrical and the audiobook narration almost lulled me to sleep several times. It was a pleasant experience :) If you enjoy Ron Rash's writing, then don't miss this one! My favorite quote: "I had been bad to sleepwalk as a kid. There were times, for some reason always in the summer, I'd make my way out of the house and end up in the yard. Folks back then, or at least country folks, didn't see the need for a porch bulb burning all night. I'd open my eyes and there'd be nothing but darkness, like the world had slipped its leash and run away, taking everything with it except me. Then I'd hear a whippoorwill or a jarfly or feel the dew dampening my feet, or I'd look up and find the stars tacked to the sky where they always were, only the moon roaming. I turned off to the main road, drove back toward town, all the while remembering what it had felt like when the world you knew had up and vanished and you needed to find something to bring that world back and you weren't sure that you could." Note: Any errors in spelling/punctuation in the above quote are mine. I typed this quote while listening via audiobook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago