Zip The Cove RON RASH another quietly wonderful book from ron rash about a couple of outcasts trying to grab a little happiness out of a life filled with loss and loneliness this one takes place in
Zip The Cove RON RASH!!another quietly wonderful book from ron rash, about a couple of outcasts trying to grab a little happiness out of a life filled with loss and loneliness.this one takes place in north carolina during WWI,in a remote and "gloamy" cove, where a brother and sister live isolated by superstition and circumstances. the sister,laurel, has a large purple birthmark believed by the entire outlying town to be a sign of witchcraft,and the cove where the two reside is believed to be haunted. after their parents died, the two of them lived alone until hank went to war, where he lost a hand (view spoiler)[ HE NEVER THOUGHT HE'D MISS A HAND SO MUCH!!(hide spoiler)], leaving laurel completely cut off from human contact and deeply lonely. there is only one man in town they can call a friend; the rest cross the street or spit when the two have to go to town for supplies. the heroism clinging to hank after his experience in the war has mitigated his situation somewhat,and people begin to treat him less shabbily, but laurel has no chance - she is doomed to solitude and loneliness, isolated in this presumably haunted cove.until a mute and illiterate traveling flute-player loses his way in the cove, gets stung by a million bees, and is nursed back to health by laurel.as he recovers, and is able to help hank with the farm chores hank's single hand is inadequate to perform alone,he and laurel form a bond. and laurel gets her chance at happiness.this being ron rash, the happiness is not guaranteed - there are going to be a lot of complications. i guessed the "twist" part just by reading what will be the flap copy, but i don't think that matters. this isn't about the reveal,(view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)], but about laurel's struggles to carve out a place for herself when she has been given so few options.it is also about birds. birds who are being driven out of their habitat by farmers protecting their crops, birds pecking each other to death, birds who will not leave a fellow bird behind.so many different birds exemplifying so many different traits of our human characters. but rash pulls it off without it feeling treacly.and the character of chauncey, our "bad guy," is terrific. it's strange that this is the character who seems the most richly drawn and the most nuanced, because he is awful and smarmy and self-aggrandizing and one of those misguided true believers who, if there energy were harnessed towards ANY USEFUL GOAL AT ALL, would be a hero. instead, he is a german-hating pre-nazi, down to the symmetry of his uniform and his desire to burn the german-language books in the library. he's an awful character, but a wonderfully-written character. and definitely my favorite in this book.all the previous "spoilers" in this review were just silly television giggles that i didn't want cheapening the main text of a review of a serious-toned book, but this following one is an actual spoiler about an incredibly small passage in the book, but one that made my heart physically ache with emotion.(view spoiler)[one word: lusitania.that's all. (hide spoiler)] that scene broke my heart and i would have loved more moments like that throughout this fine, but not emotionally jarring, novel.this one didn't kick my reader's ass the way serena did, but it is a very good, quiet piece of writing from an author more people should be reading.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>. The Cove Viral Books This lyrical, heart rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe just as theyThis lyrical, heart rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin Then it happens a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel s heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything and danger is closer than they know Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them This lyrical, heart rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.. Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight three collections of poems and four 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.. Bestseller Book The Cove UPDATED - 4/3/12 - see link at bottomThe Cove, a remote locale in North Carolina, is a cursed place, or so everyone seems to think. The story opens in the 1950s when a man from the TVA comes by, preparing the area for flooding as part of a dam project. That the elders he encounters think burying the cove under tons of water is a good idea offers a first indication of trouble. When the man, trying for a drink in a well near some abandoned buildings at the site, brings up murky water covering a skull, we have our ending point. How we get there is the tale.Rash is a master at setting a mood, a rather dark one here, and he keeps the wires of tension zinging, so you know something bad is gonna go down, but the green light of possibility keeps flapping by, keeping hope alive. That makes The Cove, incredibly rich with imagery and atmosphere, a page-turner of a different sort. This is clearly not an action adventure thriller where the fate of the planet is at stake, but Rash’s ability to portray place and to offer characters that are so richly drawn, so engaging, is such that we keep flying through his tale in order to see whether their world can be saved, or is doomed by a faceless fate.World War I is almost done. Twenty-something Laurel and her brother, Hank, have survived their parents and are trying to make a living on the troubled property the locals call “The Cove.”The air grew dank and dark and even darker as she passed through a stand of hemlocks. Toadstools and witch hazel sprouted on the trail edge, farther down nightshade and then baneberry whose poisonous fruit looked like doll's eyes.Uh oh. Hank had served in WW I, but left a hand behind. Still, he is hale and hearty otherwise, works very hard on their farm and plans to marry. Laurel is doing her washing when she hears the song of a single parakeet. The cove may be the last habitat of this now-extinct bird. What is unusual about what Laurel hears is that parakeets do not appear individually, but only in flocks. She follows the sound and spies a bedraggled young man, calmly making remarkably avian music on his flute. Birds figure prominently in Rash’s beautiful tale. He offers us much information about the Carolina Parakeet, how they behave and how, at least in part, they have come to be as scarce as they are. Unwillingness to leave a fallen comrade behind enters into this, with obvious foreboding. The flutist, Walter, is inspired by the birds, in a possibly magical way, and sees that the cove has more to offer than darkness. The next afternoon he came to a brook and followed it. By then he had begun to feel feverish. A music he'd never heard before rose from the stream. The notes had colors as well as sounds, bright threads woven into the water's flow. Some of that bright water splashed up on the bank. It was green and shimmering and he scooped it up into his palm and it became a feather.Who Walter turns out to be is central to the story, but some might regard it as spoiler material to say too much here, so I am putting that at the bottom of this review for any who might wish to take a look. For now we can get by with the rather obvious intel that Boy with flute meets Girl with purple birthmark and limited prospects.The why of her prospects is a major element. Seems the locals are a superstitious lot. They really do believe the cove is cursed and Laurel’s prominent birthmark labels her in their eyes as personally cursed at least and maybe something much worse. Her intelligence does not matter much to such people. (Reminds me a lot of right-wing talk radio and Tea Party sorts) A group of local women go out of their way to shun Laurel.An image from [Laurel’s] childhood came to her. A hawk had grabbed a baby chick and then lost its grip. The biddy was hurt and bleeding and the other biddies began pecking it. Because that was what biddies did, she’d learned that day. They found one of their own sick or injured and took turns pecking it to death.Epitomizing the dangerous ignorance of the arrogant unknowing is Chauncey, draft dodger of the venal, connected sort, (clearly he had other priorities during The Great War) eager to make political hay and more than happy to whip up some anti-German xenophobia in the service of that cause. He tries to get a local language professor fired for talking with Germans, while fantasizing about his own political future. Chauncey plays a central role when his dark deeds yield trouble beyond his control.Hope and danger, light and dark, good and evil, sanity versus superstition. If Rash were a painter his canvasses would be in the Met. The Cove is so different from his masterpiece, Serena, yet displays the same power, the same delicate skill. Serena told a large tale in big splashes of color, bright reds and blues. The Cove tells its story in small images, and a palette that stays mostly on the dark side with healthy dollops of green to signal the possibilities of life and love. Serena might take up an entire wall, while The Cove would fit in among several in a room. But you would find yourself coming back to look at it again and again, appreciating this, then noticing that. Ron Rash is one of our best writers and The Cove is top-notch work. Where Serena was large, The Cove is a much smaller canvas, but just as satisfying. Personally I would put Rash himself in that other collection, the one in the American Museum of Natural History, in the Hall of Minerals and Gems.Can music, hard work and life overcome darkness, venality and ignorance? The journey to The Cove is a trip worth taking, with a Shakespearean climax that will leave you quivering.Now as for Walter. His character is based on an actual event from the war. A German cruise ship,The Vaterland, had the misfortune of being docked in Hoboken when war broke out. The German crew was stranded. When the USA declared war, long after, many German civilians who had been working on the Vaterland and the dozens of others from stranded German ships were interned, some in North Carolina. This is the camp from which Walter escapes, as detailed in chapter 3. And, obviously, as a German national in the USA during World War I, particularly as an escapee from an internment camp, he needed to lay low, being at rather high risk. UPDATESApril 1, 2012 - Janet Maslin's wonderful review in the NY TimesJune 6, 2017 - I was alerted by GR friend Linda to the following from April 2017 - WCU's Ron Rash wins Guggenheim Fellowship - Rash deserves all the recognition there is, he is a national treasure.
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