In recent years, Rash has earned a solid reputation as an heir to John Steinbeck for his archetypal themes and his interest in social justice, and to Cormac McCarthy in his elegant rendering of the harsh, violent nature of both the wilderness and humanity. A highly regarded poet as well as a fiction writer, Rash eloquently draws the mountain landscape and the cultural milieu of Appalachia as metaphors for more recent circumstances.
In The Cove, the crisis results from the truth behind Walter’s arrival and the vainglorious ambitions of Chauncey Feith, a banker’s son and local Army recruiter whose insecurities incite him to demagoguery. Given the remoteness of the conflict from the lives and livelihoods of the local populace, Feith is deeply resented by those whose sons he sends off to war. Wounded veterans like Hank Shelton treat Feith with naked scorn. As a result, Feith is driven to prove his worth by stoking fears of the so-called “Huns.” Most contemptibly, he heaps suspicion on a professor of German at the local college for having befriended a group of German naval officers being held in genteel captivity at a resort in nearby Boiling Springs after their ship was stranded in New York Harbor at the outbreak of the war.
Feith represents the knee-jerk, xenophobic stereotyping of “the enemy” so typical of our own time, when racist agitators inflame persecution and, too often, violence against those who come from a different culture or practice a different religion. The Cove’s inevitably tragic conclusion makes clear the human casualties of reckless ignorance and jingoism.
Tonight's reception starts at 6:15 p.m., and the reading begins at 6:45.