THIS BLOG IS NO LONGER OPERATIONAL. PLEASE ENJOY WHAT IS HERE, AND DO LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU WISH. NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW POET LAUREATE IS CATHY SMITH BOWERS. SHE WILL SOON HAVE HER OWN WEBSITE THROUGH THE NORTH CAROLINA ARTS COUNCIL SITE. I WILL BE SHIFTING MY ATTENTION TO HERE, WHERE I AM, (SEE SIDEBAR)USING IT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO WRITERS WHOSE WORK DESERVES ATTENTION. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT ME THERE. For a video of the installation ceremony, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xAk6fOzaNE.
Go to http://www.yourdailypoem.com/, managed with finesse by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, who says, "Our intent is to make visitors to Your Daily Poem aware of the joy and diversity of poetry."
Sunday, December 7, 2008
SERENA, by Ron Rash
Ron Rash's new novel SERENA has received lots of notice, from Kathleen Parker, even. Good for you Kathleen. I don't always agree with your columns, but now I have new respect for you. I decided to use my friend Vicki Lane's post (vickilanemysteries.blogspot.com) about Ron and his new novel. Vicki, I hope you don't mind.
--------------------------------- Ron Rash was the keynote speaker at the North Carolina Writers Network Fall Conference this weekend. He talked about the joys of research and the many paths he had followed in pursuit of subjects from logging to hunting with eagles -- Berkute eagles from Mongolia, that is -- during the writing of his latest, highly acclaimed novel, Serena.
Ron read a bit from the novel and I was hooked -- I'd already bought it and had gotten him to sign it but the little bit he read aloud truly roused my appetite. And when he mentioned that the story was a retelling of Macbeth and that there was a sort of Greek chorus of old loggers, commenting at regular intervals on the action, I had to start in right away.
Something about being an old English major makes me dearly love a modern book that follows the story line of a classic. That was what I enjoyed the most about Sharyn McCrumb's St. Dale -- the ties to The Canterbury Tales. I even tried to do something of that myself with the Lydy Goforth section of In a Dark Season -- there are quite a few parallels to The Odyssey. But I digress.
1929 --a logging camp in western North Carolina and the timber barons are laying waste to the mountain slopes. Enter Serena, new bride of one of the biggest of the barons. She is bent on increasing the power her husband already wields -- and on wielding a good bit of power herself.
Suffice it to say that the character of Serena can give Lady Macbeth a run for the money. She's intelligent, fearless, strong, beautiful, mysterious, sexually aggressive, and utterly ruthless. She rides a pure white Arabian horse and hunts rattlesnakes with the giant golden eagle that she had shipped all the way from Mongolia. I found her utterly compelling in her evil. I didn't like her at all -- she's a truly horrible person --but, oh my goodness, I did want to find out what was going to happen next.
The writing is beautiful -- what you'd expect from a poet -- and Ron Rash had three books of poetry to his credit, along with the other novels and short story collections.
This is a book crying to be made into a movie -- and, as one reviewer put it, the brave actress who plays Serena can expect an Academy Award.
I've lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina since 1968, though I'm a native of SW Georgia. My paternal grandmother was born in the Blue Ridge, and I grew up wanting to live here. Where I am.
I've published five collections of poetry, the most recent 4 being with LSU Press, and have published poetry in magazines ranging from The Atlantic Monthly to Appalachian Heritage. But I also hike, bang pots and pans around in my kitchen, and love several dogs who leave fur all over my carpets. I write poetry because it's my way of singing back to the world both within and without.