Monday, March 2, 2015

Ron Rash opens Reynolds Price Reading Series at Duke's Smith Warehouse Wednesday night


On Wednesday night, March 4, Ron Rash will be reading – it’s the inaugural event of a new reading series honoring former Duke University professor Reynolds Price.

Presented by the Duke University English Department, the reading will take place at 8 p.m. at Smith Warehouse, Bay 4 off Main Street and Buchanan Boulevard in Durham. It’s free and open to the public.

Rash will read from his new short story collection, SOMETHING RICH AND STRANGE, which Janet Maslin called “a magnum opus” in her NY Times review. The Times of London said, “Rash can create a character in a single sentence; this is the great American short story at its best.”

In addition to this collection, he has published five novels, the bestselling SERENA, as well as THE COVE, ONE FOOT IN EDEN,
SAINTS AT THE RIVER, and THE WORLD MADE STRAIGHT. He has also published four collections of poetry and five collections of short stories. Many of his stories are set in the Appalachians.

I was very lucky to be able to audit his classes at Wildacres Writers Conference two years ago and I can attest to the fact that he’s not only an incredible writer, he’s a fabulous teacher.

If the inaugural event of The Reynolds Price Reading Series is any indication, this is a series that merits serious attention.


Here are some of my favorite Ron Rash quotes about the writing life:

“What is it that makes someone become a writer? I have vivid memories of my grandfather – who couldn't read or write. I asked him to read Cat in the Hat and he made up a story. He always ‘read’ it differently. His stories were more entertaining than my mother's. He taught me language can be magical.” (from an interview by Pam Kingsbury, Southern Scribe)

What advice do you give your students regarding writing?

“Read as much as possible and read widely. Persevere. Too many good writers give up too quickly. Perseverance is underrated in Creative Writing. For most of us, who are not Shakespeare or Keats, it takes work.” (Pam Kingsbury, Southern Scribe interview)

What do you need to have produced/completed in order to feel that you’ve had a productive writing day?

“I never can go by word length. I wish I could, as that would probably be healthier. I’ll usually put in between four and six hours a day. When I’m working hard I’ll go up to 10. Some days are better than others. What I’ve become convinced makes a writer are the days you hate it, the days you’d rather stick those pencils in your eyes. Sometimes I almost punish myself – if I’m not going be able to write, I’m not going be able to do anything else. I just sit there and wait.” (From an interview with Noah Chorney, The Daily Beast 2/27/13)

Describe your routine when conceiving of a book and its plot, before the writing begins. Do you like to map out your books ahead of time, or just let it flow?

“I let it flow. I never outline, I never plot. I really don’t know where it’s going. Maybe I have a vague idea, but I think sometimes there’s a danger that comes from having an outline, that you’re kind of putting it on rails, not allowing the story to jump off and go to a place that is surprising to the reader, and to you as a writer. I go by instinct, and that’s scary. Usually when I write a novel, I can have worked about a year and it’ll die on me. I don’t know where it’s going, and it feels hopeless. There can be three, four months where it just seems dead. I almost always start with an image. I just see where the image will take me.” (From an interview with Noah Chorney, The Daily Beast 2/27/13)

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