The World Made Straight: A Novel (Paperback)

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The World Made Straight: A Novel By Ron Rash Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

In his third novel award winning author Ron Rash once again revels in the complexity of southern Appalachian history and culture while giving us another engaging story with universal ideas. Four of the major characters -- a boy in the process of becoming a man, an habitual victim, a former teacher turned small-time drug dealer, and a slightly bigger-time drug dealer who makes for a complex villain -- interact around themes of redemption and family. Set in the 1970s with a doctor's journal entries providing glimpses back to Civil War- era Madison County, Rash turns his poet's gift for nuanced language and storyteller's knack for tight plotting to tell a violent tale reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's writing.

— Chris


Vivid, harrowing yet ultimately hopeful, The World Made Straight is Ron Rash's subtlest exploration yet of the painful conflict between the bonds of home and the desire for independence.



Travis Shelton is seventeen the summer he wanders into the woods onto private property outside his North Carolina hometown, discovers a grove of marijuana large enough to make him some serious money, and steps into the jaws of a bear trap. After hours of passing in and out of consciousness, Travis is discovered by Carlton Toomey, the wise and vicious farmer who set the trap to protect his plants, and Travis's confrontation with the subtle evils within his rural world has begun.

Before long, Travis has moved out of his parents' home to live with Leonard Shuler, a one-time schoolteacher who lost his job and custody of his daughter years ago, when he was framed by a vindictive student. Now Leonard lives with his dogs and his sometime girlfriend in a run-down trailer outside town, deals a few drugs, and studies journals from the Civil War. Travis becomes his student, of sorts, and the fate of these two outsiders becomes increasingly entwined as the community's terrible past and corrupt present bear down on each of them from every direction, leading to a violent reckoning—not only with Toomey, but with the legacy of the Civil War massacre that, even after a century, continues to divide an Appalachian community.

About the Author

Ron Rash is the author of the prize-winning novels One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River and The World Made Straight, as well as several collections of poetry and short stories. He is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize and the James Still Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. For Saints at the River he received the 2004 Weatherford Award for Best Novel and the 2005 SEBA Best Book Award for Fiction. Rash holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University and lives in Clemson, South Carolina.

Praise For…

“[Ron Rash's] novels are complex and compelling, told in graceful, conscientious prose, and The World Made Straight is his finest yet.” —The Charlotte Observer

“An intellectually satisfying work of suspense . . . Reminds us of the sort of compelling literature a brave artist can fashion from the shards of such experience.” —Los Angeles Times

“A superb tale of redemption and healing . . . Vividly enriched by clear, concise prose . . . A beautifully rendered palimpsest.” —BookPage

“Finely wrought . . . Vivid.” —Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780312426606
ISBN-10: 0312426607
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: March 20th, 2007
Pages: 304
Language: English

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