Something Rich and Strange, by Ron Rash

(See also Frykholm's interview with Rash.)

Ron Rash delivers what he promises: something rich and strange. Each of these 34 stories, covering about 150 years in the life of a corner of the Smokey Mountains near the North Carolina–Tennessee border, gazes steadily into the mysteries of human lives and choices.

Each story is slight in itself: the characters emerge from the landscape and disappear as quickly as they come. There are Civil War widows and meth orphans, abandoned lovers and grieving mothers, people trying to make something of their lives and people trying to undermine their lives. No matter how dark their circumstances, the protagonists often reach for a mystery beyond their own understanding.