THE COVE by Ron Rash
Publisher Ecco/Harper Collins, April 2012
Laurel Shelton and her
brother Hank are living out on farmland the locals say is cursed. And maybe
it is. Laurel is born with a large birthmark that neighbors take as a sign
of witchery. Hank loses an arm while serving overseas in WW I. When Hank
falls in love with a woman who refuses to live there, Hank secretly plans to
leave his sister behind.
But Laurelís fate is forever altered when she comes upon a stranger in the
woods one day, a stranger she saves from a near-fatal accident. With only a
simple haversack of worldly belongings, including his treasured flute and
note explaining that he is mute and bound for New York, the stranger slowly
insinuates himself into life in the Cove, helping Hank on the farm, playing
his ethereal music in the long twilit evenings, and, eventually, bringing
Laurel the only real happiness she has ever known.
But where Laurel stumbles onto his real identity, she realizes the profound
danger they are in, not only from an army recruiter determined to show his
mettle by stoking fear and outrage over all things German (harassing an
aging language professor at the nearby college, purging the library of any
suspect foreign material), but also from her own brother, Hank, whose rage
at the enemy who maimed him is barely contained beneath his placid surface.
In a page-turning climax, these characters lock horns with history and
reveal Ron Rash once again to be a masterful novelist at the height of his
When writers gather and tipple while discussing those not present at the
table but admired, the name Ron Rash quickly comes up. He is a double-threat
writer, great in both poetry and fiction. He uses language with such
apparently effortless skill that it is as though he found words in his barn
as a child and has been training them to fit his needs ever since. There's
not much he doesn't know about humans in turmoil, or his region, a place
where nothing ever changes until all of a sudden it does and often too much.
Rash throws a big shadow now and it's only going to get bigger and soon.
-- Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone
"Ron Rash is a writer of both the darkly beautiful and the sadly true;
his new novel, The Cove, solidifies his reputation as one of our very finest
-- Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize Winning author of Empire Falls
"I wish the whole world spoke the way Ron Rash's characters do. Read him for
his poetry and great humanity. Just read him."
--Jennifer Haigh, author of Faith
"Warning: If you're going to begin reading The Cove, be prepared to miss
your appointment and cancel your dinner plans, because it's one of those
books that grabs you from the first page and won't let go. Rash is a
hypnotist, a magician, a conjurer, and that rarest of wordsmiths, a
-- Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
"Set during World War One, The Cove is a novel that speaks intimately to
today's politics. Beautifully written, tough, raw, uncompromising, entirely
new. Ron Rash is a writer's writer who writes for others."
-- Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
"The Cove is a marvelous novel, bristling with power, humanity and the
exceptional quality of characterization and story-telling we have come to
expect from Ron Rash"
-- Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting