Saints at the River ) follows the wayward trajectory of high school dropout Travis Shelton, who stumbles on a neighbo"/>
 

The World Made Straight

Ron Rash, Author
Ron Rash, Author . Holt $24 (289p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7866-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-0085-0
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-0-312-42660-6
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Rash's finely wrought third novel (after Saints at the River ) follows the wayward trajectory of high school dropout Travis Shelton, who stumbles on a neighbor's crop of marijuana while out fishing in Madison County, N.C. He steals a few plants to sell to Leonard Shuler, a divorced and disgraced former high school teacher, who is living in a trailer and selling drugs. Travis has a violent run-in with the father-and-son Toomeys, who own the crop, and is left hospitalized and homeless. He moves in with Leonard and his pill-popping girlfriend. There, Travis and Leonard study the Civil War ledgers and journals of a Dr. Candler, and learn of the county's seismic upheaval during the Shelton Laurel Massacre and its aftermath. Meanwhile, the Toomeys, who do business with Leonard, are not finished exacting their pound of flesh, this time from Leonard. Rash's vivid prose depicts his characters' dependence on drugs, alcohol and hell-raising with sympathy, rendering their shared sense of futility and economic entrapment without sentimentality or easy answers. The Civil War sections are less successful, but they convey the past's hold on the present and ground Rash's Appalachian wanderers in a shared vision of American immobility. (Apr .)

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