Review Excerpts

The Believer Magazine – October 2007
“The World Made Straight really is engrossing—indeed, the last devastating fifty-odd pages are almost too compelling… It’s a satisfyingly complicated story about second chances and history and education and the relationships between parents and their children… Rash manages to convince you right from the first page that his characters and his story are going to matter to you… it’s an enviable skill, and it’s demonstrated here so confidently, and with such a lack of show, that you almost forget Rash has it until…your own sense of well-being is bound up in the fate of the characters.”
— Nick Hornby

The Bloomsbury Review – July/August 2006
“Illuminating…dark… yet big-hearted, even funny and always moving… Ron Rash’s third novel is a powerful, and at times hair-raising, story of historical loss and recovery… a brilliant reminder that the past is often a prologue for our contemporary challenges… Steeped in the rich language and lyricism of Appalachia that has won Rash national acclaim as a poet, World Made Straight joins Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon as an important lyric page turner for our times; an American masterpiece about the power of unresolved history to shatter, subvert and ultimately heal our heart-breaking attempts to understand our identities and own times.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – May 14, 2006
“Ron Rash writes some of the most memorable novels of this young century and brings to the task a poet’s love of language and a short story writer’s sense of gripping plots. Rash’s third novel, The World Made Straight, establishes him as one of the major writers of our time. It further demonstrates his ability to tell a contemporary Appalachian story that is strongly rooted in that region’s heart-rending past. Rash is a supreme master at revealing character through dialogue… His knowledge of his own Appalachian roots… paired with his keen observation of people… enable him to craft fiction that is at once uplifting, harrowing and unforgettable.”
— Donald Harington

The Post and Courier, Charleston – May 7, 2006
“In North Carolina novelist Ron Rash’s The World Made Straight, even in the 21st century, the shadows of the Civil War still taint the ground in the North Carolina hills… Rash paints the beauty of the mountains vividly. The sun flooding over the rims turning the black valleys gold, the speckled trout flashing in the water, are visions Rash makes sing to the reader… Rash creates a forceful reality, and his skill and style establish him as a powerful writer. He ties shadowy past and harsh present with a vine as strong and pervasive as kudzu.”
— Anne Moise

Los Angeles Times – May 3, 2006
“Exhilarating… Rash is too fine and knowing a writer to allow even a hint of folkloric sentimentality to intrude… The World Made Straight reminds us of the sort of compelling literature a brave artist can fashion from the shards of… experience. It is less the literature of a post-apocalyptic landscape than it is one in which life, searching for reconciliation, continuously recapitulates the apocalypse in ways both social and personal. The necessary but heartbreaking end to Rash’s novel suggests that while the intellect never can be wholly reconciled with history’s facts, hearts can be — if only ambiguously so.”
— Tim Rutten

The Charlotte Observer – April 30, 2006
“Chilling… ambitious… shattering… [Rash’s] novels are complex and compelling, told in graceful, conscientious prose, and “The World Made Straight” is his finest yet. Here, he deftly braids past and present to place, his own literary place, the southern Appalachian mountains, where stubbornness is a virtue, justice is brutally Old Testament and trespassing is a sin. The larger questions become moral ones, of safety in numbers and personal salvation, what it means to save somebody other than yourself, and what changes about the world if you do.”
–Ashley Warlick

Bookpage – April 2006
“In The World Made Straight, Rash – like his Southern Gothic ancestors William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor – offers readers a powerful story about families and individuals troubled by subtle evils, persistent violence, malignant fear and the relentless encroachment of the past upon the present. At the same time, however, this highly recommended novel, vividly enriched by clear, concise prose, also becomes a beautifully rendered palimpsest of memory in which the brooding presence of buried regional and family history is finally overcome by the cathartic power of truth and sacrifice.”
— Tim Davis

Booklist – February 15, 2006
“Part melancholy historical novel and part high-voltage thriller, this third novel from the talented Rash will appeal to readers who like their suspense done with literary flair.”
— Joanne Wilkinson

Publishers Weekly – January 30, 2006
“Rash’s finely wrought third novel 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. 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.”

Kirkus – January 15, 2006
“Thoughtful… Civil War ghosts hover over a scrappy teenager and his surrogate father in a Southern tale that mixes suspense, coming-of-age and historical elements.”