Friday, December 8, 2017

CASUALTIES BY RASH

Herewith a copy of a review I posted on Goodreads in 2013 on Casualties by Ron Rash, one of my favorite writers.

Ron Rash is rapidly rising as one of my favorite short-story writers. His prose is different from other Southern writers I love (Conroy, Frazier, O'Connor) and less dark (McCarthy), but the stories are no less powerful or enjoyable. This collection is sterling, nearly every story a gem. The common theme, as reflected in the title, is loss. . .of family, futures, faith, played out by men and women in stories spanning two centuries. The characters often struggle, reflecting the hard lives of people from the Appalachians and the South, though their experiences may also be affected by life outside the region (as in service overseas). His stories often touched me personally, as I know these people, or know people who have related their stories to me, and the South with all its blemishes will always be a part of me. Rash is one of a handful of South Carolinian writers that transcends his region while plowing up the historical loam of this special and unique land, with all the pain and effort and sacrifice sweated into the soil, but does so with a keen eye and a sympathetic---yet still critical---voice. These are people on the edge, often rough survivors fighting to maintain dignity and carve out a place for themselves and their families, often against stiff odds. Rash's tales are straightforward and decidedly outside the current rage for fantastical and weird, yet they are every bit as good and worthy of an audience. In "Last Rite" a middle-aged mother seeks a final piece of the puzzle to obtain closure in the loss of her son. Several characters deal with serious health issues, as in "Chemistry" (told through the eyes of a son) and "Casualties and Survivors." A combat nurse and an infantryman struggle with their experiences in "Cold Harbor" and "Return," respectively. Many stories have characters who are well beyond their prime, looking back reflectively on their high school years as jocks (football, basketball) and the scars brought along or the failure of expectations. One young man deals with disillusion as he earns his manhood in the eyes of his kin in "The Projectionist's Wife." George Saunders would have approached life in a carnival sideshow far differently than Rash, though "Dangerous Love" is just as good a story as one the former would have presented. Rash often tackles class division, regret, moral failings, disappointment. A revengeful prank gone wrong. A promotion turned punishment. A few stories caused me real pain and were hard to read. There is rich diversity in the stories, even as common themes and backgrounds color the paragraphs, but do not expect lightness or humor, as they are meant to reveal a more hardscrabble existence. Still, I'm not being rash when I say I have, and will continue to, recommend this book and others by Rash.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

CHRISTMAS PAST (2004)

Found an old disc during the move, and I don't think I posted any of these on this blog, so a little throwback of the boys during Christmas 2004. In the second pic you can see Joey striking his famous dinosaur pose, with the two-finger curved claw and roar.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

STONE MOUNTAIN

The troop this past weekend traveled to the Atlanta area to visit Stone Mountain. Herewith some shots of Chimo.

Friday, November 17, 2017

VET MARCH

Chimo at the Columbia Veterans' Day Parade with the Flora Battalion.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

RECENT PICS OF DAD

Clipped pictures of Dad from the Facebook page of the Alzheimer's facility he is living at. Despite the progression of the illness, in many of the shots you can see that he still has a sense of humor and is active, still has his dark (not dyed) hair, and is in remarkable good physical health. He's still photogenic too.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

ORIENTEERING

This past weekend the troop went to Crowder Mountain to work on the orienteering course laid out there. Here are a few pictures of Chimo during the trip:

Friday, October 20, 2017

MIKEY POEM

Around 1994 or so, when I was living with Chris Kelm, we (I guess technically she) adopted a beautiful, friendly brindle racing greyhound who ran under the name Michigan Mike, somewhat successfully, and we got him through a rescue as Mikey. I had not written a poem since high school, and one day I was serving as a proctor for a state medical examination, when suddenly I came across a line in my head, and I wrote it down. During the test, which lasted for hours, I wrote the poem down on the back of a restroom pass, with a little drawing. It was later published in a small newsletter, likely none still existing, and I thought my copy gone forever. I am moving this week, and when I cleaned off a shelf, I found the original poem. Here it is:

MIKEY

Light foot flash on
oval track,
Halvah shaded straining
back,
Playful buck, so full of
spunk,
Gentleman, yet ready
to funk,
Bouncing, prancing,
bowing boy,
Love ta shake dat
rabbit toy.
Who would think that
anyone,
After all that money
and fun,
Would put this beauty
down to rest?
Glad we got him,
he's the best.