Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

For Independence Day - The American Dream Run Wild

Nearly a year after the triumphant release of his lauded fourth novel we are excited to present an in-depth interview with Ron Rash. Serena (Ecco/Harper Collins) is Rash’s period piece that is just as much a place piece, this period and place being Appalachia during the Great Depression. Rash is the Pariss Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University, and if that moniker doesn’t signal his grasp of the region strongly enough the first few pages of Serena will.

Serena is the bride of George Pemberton, a young lumber baron from New England, and this is the story of her Machiavellian pursuit for power. As austere as Pemberton can be, he is the softie in the relationship as Serena lies, cheats, murders and mutilates her way along a course that would make Lady MacBeth blush. Rash plays up parallels to the Scottish Play throughout the novel to the point that when a clairvoyant portends of Pemberton’s death you may as well go ahead and begin thinking of creative ways by which the vision might be fulfilled.

Not that this book isn’t gripping—quite the contrary. This is a rare novel that manages to be a literary feat while also playing out as a bona fide page turner. Rash talks about this duality on this week’s show. He also talks a good deal about the disappearing wilderness in Appalachia, a central aspect of this novel. He notes the irony inherent in locals that participate in industries such as timber and mining: “The very thing that makes them special is the thing they’re destroying.”

Despite ample success with this and earlier works, Ron Rash isn’t a very public figure. He is soft-spoken and deferential. But this week he opens up a bit as he chats about the region that is not less a part of him than he is of it.

As you’re traveling home from holiday destinations we hope you’ll tune in the Cover to Cover on GPB Radio. Catch us at 8 PM in most parts of the state and at 6 PM on WUGA 91.7FM in the Athens area. Enjoy!

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