Posted in Short Stories

Ron Rash: The Baptism

A Birthday Short Story Extra

Since today is my birthday, I thought I might start a birthday tradition to use this day as sort of a fifth wild card for my Deal Me In 2020 short story project. I realize that I can read a story whenever I want but there’s something about a tradition.

At the library not too long ago, I saw that the 2018 edition of the Best American Short Stories edited by Roxanne Gay included the story “The Baptism” by Ron Rash. A few years ago I read Rash’s collection Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories and found it to be full of great short stories mostly set in Appalachian North Carolina. So I was excited to read one that I hadn’t read before and “The Baptism” didn’t disappoint.

“You believe Gunter capable of such change?”

“No,” Reverend Yates answered, “but God is capable. It is the mystery of grace. I cannot be true to my responsibilities if I doubt the possibility.”

Reverend Yates provides this answer to members of his congregation who don’t support the baptism of the community’s most ruthless husband. Just to be clear, Reverend Yates’ response comes out of shear responsibility. It’s more head knowledge than heart felt. His run-ins with Gunter make this situation more personal than it might have been.

Gunter’s baptism takes place outside on a very cold day in January and Rash describes this chill so vividly I felt like I was getting frostbite just reading it. The story’s ending has a Flannery O’Connor feel to it and Rash provides a sort of suspense. The reader can sense something is going to happen but can’t quite tell which way it will turn. All the better to keep reading!

Destiny or free will? Grace or revenge? All questions easily asked but maybe not so easily answered when everything is said and done. Go ahead and read it yourself and see what you think?

Here are my posts about Something Rich and Strange:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Another favorite Ron Rash story is Chemistry, also from Something Rich and Strange.


6 thoughts on “Ron Rash: The Baptism

  1. Sorry I’m late to the party but happy belated birthday Dale!

    Another author that I have never heard of before but you sold me on the Flannery O’Connor connection. I will have to keep Ron Rash on my radar.

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