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The Risen: A Novel

The Risen: A Novel

Автор Ron Rash

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The Risen: A Novel

Автор Ron Rash

3/5 (72 оценки)
187 страниц
3 часа
6 сент. 2016 г.


The Risen is an important novel — and an intriguing one — from one of our master storytellers. In its pages, the past rises up, haunting and chiding, demanding answers of us all.” —The News & Observer

New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer, one bewitching young woman—and the secrets that could destroy their lives.

While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill, meet the entrancing Ligeia. A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town, Ligeia entrances the brothers, especially Eugene, who is drawn to her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude. Eugene begins to move farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable.

Decades later, the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, and a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic. When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget.

The deeper Eugene delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene’s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and offer salvation . . . or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?

6 сент. 2016 г.

Об авторе

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four prizewinning novels, including The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.

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The Risen - Ron Rash


From the beginning, Ligeia’s ability to appear or disappear seemed magical. The first time, forty-six years ago, was at Panther Creek the summer before my junior year in high school. On Sundays after church and a lunch at our grandfather’s house, my older brother, Bill, and I changed into T-shirts and cutoff jeans, tossed our fishing gear into the ’62 Ford pickup Grandfather had bought us, and headed west out of Sylva. We’d cross the interstate, turn onto national forestland, and drive a mile down the gravel road bordering Panther Creek, rods and reels rattling in the truck bed as Bill veered onto an old logging trail. Soon tree limbs and saplings raked the hood and windshield. Then there was no longer a road, only a gap in the trees through which Bill wove until skidding to a stop.

Only two miles away, the Tuckaseegee River held larger trout and deeper swimming holes, but the trout and pools here were enough for us. Best of all, we had this section of stream to ourselves and wanted to keep it that way, which was why Bill parked where the truck could not be seen from the road. We made our way through a thicket of mountain laurel whose branches sometimes whipped back, marking us with welts and scratches. At the stream, we baited our hooks and cast upstream where the current slowed, forming a wide, deep pool. Bill and I set the rods on rocks, stripped to our cutoff jeans, and swam in the pool’s tailwaters. When a rod tip trembled, one of us got out to reel in what tugged the line. Often it was a knottyhead or catfish, but if a trout we gilled it onto our metal stringer. Grandfather enjoyed eating fresh trout and demanded we bring some back. Our mother rolled the fish in cornmeal and fried them for the old man, as Bill and I sometimes called him, though never to his face.

After hours of wearing stifling suits while seated on rigid pews and high-backed dining chairs, to enter water and splay our limbs was freeing. The midday sun fell full on the pool, so when we waded in up to our waists, heat and cold balanced as if by a carpenter’s level. That was the best sensation, knowing in a moment, but not quite yet, I’d dive into cold but emerge into warmth. Years later at Wake Forest, when I still believed I might create literature, I’d write a mediocre poem about those mornings in church and afterward the baptism of nature.

We’d caught five trout before Bill lifted the fish from the water, signaling it was time to go. Through a gap in the canopy, the declining sun brightened the stringer’s silver sheen, flared the red slashes on each trout’s flanks. A sloshing chandelier was how I described it to my mother that evening. Bill opened the Ka-Bar pocketknife that had once belonged to our father and locked the blade. Good practice, he said, given that after his upcoming year at Wake Forest he’d be heading to Bowman Gray, not to be a GP like our grandfather but a surgeon.

I was lifting a beach towel from the sand when I saw her.

Someone’s downstream, I said, in the pool where the creek bends.

A fisherman? Bill asked, and set down the trout he was gutting. The knife remained in his hand as he took a few steps downstream. I don’t see anyone.

A girl, I said. She was in the pool, watching us, and then she dove underwater.

A girl? Bill asked. A child or ‘girl’ like somebody our age?

Our age.

In a swimsuit?

I don’t think she was wearing anything, I answered.

Nothing, even on her bottom half?

Nothing on the part I could see.

Was anyone with her?

I don’t think so.

Bill set the knife on the sand.

Well, let’s go look.

But the pool lay empty, unrippled. No footprints indented the sand.

You haven’t been sneaking into Grandfather’s office closet, have you, little brother? Bill asked.

She could have gotten out on the other side, I said. On the far bank, surrounded by rhododendron, a granite slab long and wide as a shed door leaned into the stream. I pointed at a damp shadow. It looks like water dripped on that rock.

A muskrat or otter could do that, Bill said.

He walked downstream, saw nothing, and went through the woods far enough to scan the gravel road.

I don’t see a vehicle, Bill said when he came back. "So where did she come from, Eugene? Is she a mermaid who swam up from the Atlantic?"

Someone might have dropped her off, or she could have come over the ridge. There are houses there.

Houses, not a nudist colony. Bill laid a hand on my shoulder, firm enough that I couldn’t shrug it off. We’ve got to get you a real girl so you won’t be dreaming one up.

Okay, forget it. I was wrong, I said, tired of the teasing but also wondering if maybe I had imagined her.

BUT I HADN’T, and now, all of these years later, Ligeia has, once again, suddenly appeared, though this time not at Panther Creek but on the front page of our county newspaper, and looking no older than she did in 1969. A mermaid who hadn’t returned to the ocean after all, which is why I’ve broken my rule about drinking before five P.M. It is morning but an empty pint of Jack Daniel’s lies on the coffee table beside last night’s wine bottle. An hour ago I’d read the headline Remains Identified as Jane Mosely, refolded the newspaper, and set it facedown on the couch. Now I hope the whiskey buffers me enough to read the whole article. I crawled into that whiskey bottle and stayed there. Years ago, I’d heard those words on a Friday evening in the Sylva Methodist Church basement. I’d never thought of whiskey that way before, but it is what you seek—to be suspended in that amber glow. Seek but not always achieve, because this morning I can’t find my way to that place.

Bill’s office opens at nine. When the stove clock’s minute hand reaches its apex, I dial. The receptionist tells me my brother is in surgery.

When will he get out? I ask.

It’s an emergency operation, Mr. Matney, so I can’t be sure.

Have him call me as soon as he returns.

I will make a note of it, the receptionist says.

Does he have a cell phone or pager?

Your brother doesn’t answer calls during surgery, Mr. Matney.

You can at least leave him a message to call me, or give me the number and let me do it myself.

For a few moments the line is silent.

I will text him, she huffs.

Someone at the hospital might know when Bill would finish, but I’d not be told over the phone. I’m not hungry, but eating gives me something to do while waiting, so I force down a bowl of cereal. Besides, alcohol and an empty stomach are never good. Never.


That summer Bill and I worked in our grandfather’s office weekdays from ten thirty to six, nine to noon Saturdays. We ran errands or answered the phone if Shirley, who served as both nurse and receptionist, was busy or at lunch, which left plenty of time to read books brought from home or the magazines scattered around the reception room. On call, our grandfather said, which also meant under his control. When Grandfather and Shirley left at five, Bill and I swept and mopped the floors, cleaned bathrooms and emptied wastebaskets, disinfected the counters and examination tables. The only strenuous work occurred on Saturdays when we waxed and buffed the floors. Since the office was closed, we had the place mostly to ourselves. Holding tight to the buffer as it skittered across the floor was like controlling a lawn mower on ice. Bill and I took fifteen-minute shifts, my arms gelid by the time it was done. Afterward, we’d rest briefly in the waiting room with the air conditioning blasting, then lock the door and enter the midday heat.

During the school year, Nebo, our grandfather’s mute handyman, did the office cleaning, but come summer he did yard work, as well as fixing leaky faucets, nailing down loose boards, painting, and whatever else Grandfather ordered him to do. On Saturdays while Bill and I worked inside, Nebo cut the office yard with an old side-wheel mower our grandfather refused to replace. Two or three times each Saturday, the mower blades paused and Nebo came inside for a drink of water but also to inspect our work, always pointing out any spot missed.

The salaries we received equaled that of more taxing jobs, such as working on a city grounds crew or at the local sawmill. Grandfather’s hiring Bill and me seemed further assurance of what he’d told our mother when the hunting accident left her a widow—that she and Bill and I would be taken care of. Grandfather owned the house we lived in and let us stay there rent free, all taxes and utilities paid. Our college would be paid for, braces and clothes, whatever other needs. As for the summer jobs, Grandfather could have given us the money outright, but as he told us, it was his duty to instill in us a sense of discipline and responsibility. The jobs fulfilled another purpose though—to keep Bill focused on becoming a surgeon. The office’s medical environment helped with that, but the work also kept Bill close to Sylva and away from Virginia, where his girlfriend, Leslie, was home from Wake Forest for the summer.

That Bill would become a surgeon had been decreed when he was still in elementary school. Look at how he trims the fat off that roast, Grandfather told our mother. A natural-born surgeon and destined to be one of the best, just as I and his father would have been. And you, Eugene, my grandfather added, smiling as he turned to me, you’re not even using the correct hand. I don’t know of a single left-handed surgeon. Southpaws see things differently, which isn’t what you want from someone wielding a scalpel. It would not matter so much as a GP, but your mother insists on directing you toward more artistic pursuits. For one of the few times I ever witnessed, our mother openly disagreed with her father-in-law. No, she’d replied quietly, I merely wish my sons to follow their own interests.

Grandfather’s attempts to shape our futures had started even earlier. The first Christmas present I remember was a black plastic doctor’s bag filled with a toy stethoscope and thermometer, a rubber hammer to test reflexes, and plastic scalpels much like picnic knives. There were children’s books about medicine, plastic human models with organs and veins. Early on, Grandfather took Bill to the office and on house calls for patients too elderly to leave home. Bill later claimed there wasn’t ever a time that he hadn’t thought of becoming a surgeon. But how could it have been otherwise?

Our grandfather continued to encourage me to think about a medical career, but only halfheartedly. I occasionally went to his office and on patient visits. If he showed Bill something under his microscope or explained a diagnosis, he might include me, perhaps thinking I might yet become one of the elect. Or perhaps it was a way to diminish my mother’s influence. But once Bill declared premed at Wake Forest, my grandfather never mentioned medicine to me again.

AFTER BILL’S TEASING about mermaids, the following Sunday I’d decided to stay home and read.

Bring your book and come with me, Eugene, he insisted. I’ll lay off the mermaid crap and buy us some Pepsis to drink. All you’ll have to do is swim and read. I’ll tend the fishing lines.

All right, I finally said.

When we arrived, I laid my towel on the sand and was about to open my paperback when Bill spoke.

So she is real.

Downstream, the girl I’d seen last week waded in the pool’s shallows, though this time she wore a green two-piece bathing suit. If she’d seen us, she wasn’t acting like it.

Do you recognize her? Bill asked.


She fills out that bathing suit nicely, don’t you think? Bill said. Maybe we should go introduce ourselves.

I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. Maybe she wants to be by herself.

Well, if she does, so be it, but it won’t hurt to find out, Bill said, and as always, he led and I followed.

She saw us coming and plunged into the deeper water.

Hey, Bill shouted. We just wanted to introduce ourselves.

We’d run her off again, I figured, but when we got to the pool, she was on the stream’s opposite side. Her arms lay languidly on the rock shelf, head and shoulders out of the water, the green bikini top just under the surface. Her long red hair set off her aqua eyes and unblemished complexion. Close up, she looked younger, closer to my age than

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  • (5/5)
    THE RISEN may not have been promoted as much as Ron Rash’s other books. I hadn’t heard of it until I found it two years after its publication. And what a find it turns out to be!Two brothers, Bill, a successful neurosurgeon, and Eugene, a failed writer and an alcoholic, learn that the body of an old acquaintance, Ligeia, has been discovered. Eugene tells the story of the summer 46 years ago when they met Ligeia and of their present predicament. Who killed her?This is my favorite of all Rash's books. It’s short but leaves quite an impact.
  • (4/5)
    Not my favorite of Rash's novels, but a good read nonetheless. The descriptions of the setting are fantastic, characters are well defined, the story was a bit meh for me.
  • (3/5)
    A bit of a family-based mystery involving two brothers who have had divergent trajectories in life after knowing, as teenagers, a wild, manipulative girl who disappeared. Told from the perspective of the alcoholic writer brother who has always been compared unfavorably to his older surgeon sibling. Their cruel, controlling grandfather, the town doctor, figures prominently. Not Rash's best, but a satisfying story.
  • (4/5)
    In Ron Rash's books, the evocative locations are always essential to the story. No exception here, where some of the more memorable scenes take place beside a cool mountain stream in the North Carolina mountains in 1969. This is a slim novel, but it's a story that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    ****** very small possible SPOILER*******I first read Ron Rash last year with his book above the falls which I really liked. This book "The Risen" is a good story but it is quite short. It is almost as if the author either already had it written but it was around 100 pages and in order to make it a stand alone book, he had to plump it up with extra information, or he just ran out of steam with what to do with the story.The book is about two brothers, Bill- older and in college, and Eugene- younger and impressionable, who live with their mother and are beholden to their grandfather- the towns Doctor and a huge force to be reckoned with, living in a small town in N Carolina. In the summer of 1969, ( wasn't this a Brian Adams song?),while fishing on a deserted section of a creek they meet a new girl, Ligeia, who is more San Francisco than anything they have ever been exposed to. The girl has been sent to the town to live with her strict very religious aunt and uncle, because of some trouble she got in in her home town of Daytona Florida, and is now missing the sex and drugs lifestyle she had adopted. The girl has sex with each brother, but latches onto the younger one who is more easily manipulated. In the fall of 1969 she gets into trouble needs money and needs out of town fast. Bill and Eugene come to her rescue and she flees. Or does she?Jump to today.Bill is a hugely successful surgeon, and Eugene is a disgraced, divorced alcoholic, who own family won't speak to. While reading the paper one morning Eugene see that a body has been discovered that was buried at their old fishing spot.
  • (4/5)
    A more gently told and currently (1970) set tale than most by Rash, one of my favorite writers (especially for "Serena" and his short stories). He is the truthteller and poet of the Appalachians and of western North Carolina. Here he invokes Thomas Wolfe, a writer whom he states must be read by the young, and I agree, having loved "Look Homeward Angel" in my teens but now, not much. This is a story of two brothers and the rivalry that seems to be most common between same gender, close in age. It also introduces the outside world in the form of a hippie girl, a "mermaid" they find in their swimming hole, who seduces both Bill and Eugene, with disastrous results. There's also a small mystery left unresolved, and the harsh tyrant usually found in Rash's fiction, the boys' grandfather. "Grandfather, he was a monster, wasn't he?"
  • (4/5)
    It might have been the summer of love in most of the country, but 1969 in this small town was mostly passed over. But for two brothers, Eugene and his older brother Bill, this summer would change everything.First love, first sex, first drink, for young Eugene it was a summer he would never forget. The magic of this author is not just the southern settings which he is known for but that he gives his characters situations and problems that could be for anyone, anywhere. This is written very simply, but with much depth, of the characters and the situation. A grandfather who is a dictator and after their Father's death wants to run the lives of their mother and of both boys. The story is told from an older Eugene looking back and reevaluating what he know after a horrific discovery. Does the end ever justify the means? Does the tremendous service one does when older excuse mishaps of the past? So simply written but at the same time very complex. Rather ingenuous, especially Ina shorter paged book.So I loved this but feel the synopsis of the book almost gives too much away. Don't know why they do that. Anyway, think this book would make an interesting book discussion.ARC from publisher.
  • (4/5)
    “There are some choices you make and you do know, ever afterward, to your last breath—of course, these are only the wrong ones.”

    I really love reading Ron Rash. He’s a writer that can say so much with such concise wording. He doesn’t need to write an entire paragraph describing the color of a sunrise. All his sentences are all meat without the fat that some writers feel the need to overly use adjectives. The Risen is a slim novel but speaks volumes.
  • (4/5)
    Great writer with a great writing style that flows. Story was good. If you look at the story as a mystery, the who in the who dunnit is pretty easy to figure out, the reason, not as easy. There was one item unsolved and left to the reader's imagination.
  • (3/5)
    I'm afraid nothing he writes will ever be as good as Serena.
  • (5/5)
    The Risen is another Ron Rash novel that the prose just sings off the page. Rash never fails to disappoint me in his use of descriptive verse. He so easily transports me to the stage of his characters. It was as if I was sitting on that river bank soaking my toes in the icy waters of the mountain stream known as Panther Creek. The story itself is rather quiet and ambles along at a nice pace and then before you know it you have reached the end. Then I exhale in a long sigh because it is always bittersweet to come to the end of a story well told. The book is both a coming of age story and a murder mystery wrapped up in one neat package. The story revolves around two brothers, Eugene and Bill Matney, 16 and 20 respectively, and one pivotal summer in 1969. Bill is home from Wake Forest for the summer and he and Eugene have gone fishing after church, as they do every Sunday, when they meet Ligiea. Ligiea, 17 herself, has been exiled by her parents to her Uncle’s in rural Western North Carolina in an attempt to remove her from the drugs and counterculture of the 60s she has been involved in at Daytona Beach. For these young boys/men, she is a temptress. She is worldly to their innocence and Eugene is captivated by her. With her, he experiences alcohol, drugs and sex for the first time. Bill, is much less progressive, while at first he joins in, later, after his girlfriend visits, he under goes a metamorphosis. A sibling rivalry of sorts ensues and the brothers drift apart. Years later, Eugene is an alcoholic and his brother is a prominent surgeon in Asheville and though the physical distance between them is short, in reality, they are worlds apart. Then the unimaginable happens, a body is found near the spot where they fished that summer in 1969. The remains are identified as Ligiea’s. The police start asking questions. She can’t be dead, Eugene knows Ligiea was on a bus bound for Florida. I have had this book on my desk for over a month. I kept putting it off for others that were more pressing. Now I want to read it again. Great Stuff!