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Gérald Préher et Xavier Le Brun
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Ron Rash
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1Ron Rash has often said that the short story is his favorite genre. In an interview with Frédérique Spill, published in JSSE 67, he explains how the mystery behind writing has become an object of fascination: “The story comes, it grows; the writer does not know where it’s going. . . . The way I work, I have no ideas. I’m quite willing to wander, sometimes for pages, not knowing where this is going and how things are going to come together.” Such ideas echo Eudora Welty’s about the importance of the path taken rather than the final destination (see her essay “Is Phoenix Jackson’s Grandson Really Dead?” in The Eye of the Story) and provide a blueprint to read Rash’s fiction. The Appalachia writer also insists on the importance of place in his work and he generally quotes a famous line from Eudora Welty who claims that “one place understood helps us understand all other places better.”

2This collection of essays on Ron Rash, the second edited volume devoted to his work, is brought to us by two renown specialists: Frédérique Spill, who recently published The Radiance of Small Things in Ron Rash’s Writing (U of South Carolina P, 2019), and Randall Wilhelm, who edited The Ron Rash Reader (U of South Carolina P, 2014). In 2018, Randall Wilhelm and Zachary Vernon published the first one, Summoning the Dead: Essays on Ron Rash (U of South Carolina P), and a few years back, in 2014, John Lang wrote the very first monograph on Rash’s fiction in Linda Wagner-Martin’s Understanding series, also from the University of South Carolina Press. Another valuable contribution was Mae Miller Claxton and Rain Newcomb’s Conversations with Ron Rash (UP of Mississippi, 2016), which once again testifies to the growing interest in Rash’s work. JSSE is happy to follow trend with the present volume which includes not only two original interviews but also a brand new story Ron Rash was kind enough to offer us.

3We hope this publication will garner the interest of readers already familiar with the stories discussed in its pages, as well as that of newcomers to Rash’s Appalachia. Either encountered for the first time or read anew through the lens of this volume’s contributions, the writer’s words yield the same haunting quality as those of other literary masters: contained in them is “something rich and strange,” as the title of Rash’s selected stories (Ecco, 2014) suggests, inviting readers to see beneath the surface, to search for hidden treasures within the depths of the human psyche—even though, as readers are so often made to realize in Rash’s fiction, “nothing gold can stay”… Conjuring up images from Shakespeare and Frost, but also from many others, Rash has found his place on a literary map that he keeps inviting us to explore further.

4We would like to offer here our special thanks to Emmanuel Vernadakis for his kind and ever so precious guidance in the process of editing this new volume of the JSSE.

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Gérald Préher et Xavier Le Brun, « Foreword »Journal of the Short Story in English, 74 | 2020, 13-14.

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Gérald Préher et Xavier Le Brun, « Foreword »Journal of the Short Story in English [En ligne], 74 | Spring 2020, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2022, consulté le 27 février 2024. URL :

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Gérald Préher

Gérald Préher is Professor of American Studies at Lille Catholic University (France) and a member of the CIRPaLL (University of Angers, France). He defended a doctoral dissertation on southern literature and has written essays on various 19th and 20th century writers. He co-edited several collections of essays on American literature, is the editor of the Journal of the Short Story in English and the general editor of the review Résonances. He recently published a study of Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter as part of a book on Solitude and Community in the Novel (Atlande), has a forthcoming monograph on Elizabeth Spencer and a volume dedicated to Richard Ford in the Understanding Contemporary American Literature series.

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Xavier Le Brun

University of Angers, JSSE Associate Editor

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