NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY. By Ron Rash. Ecco. 239 pages. $24.99. E-book $11.99.

The only problem with Ron Rash’s collection of 14 short stories: Every writer in regional academic Southern lit circles injects a dose of mountain morality, it seems.

All the plot twists and character flaws imaginable have been exploited. Finding that nugget to make a story shine is like panning for gold in the Uwharrie Mountains: all played out.

Rash, a Boiling Springs, N.C., native and Western Carolina University professor, is one of the hot authors in college bookstores.

He made his rep with novels such as “Serena,” a tale of the North Carolina Appalachians with language as much literary as authentic.

He twists his stories in “Nothing Gold Can Stay” with those tried-and-true coils of biblical fundamentalism, hard-as-stone mountain mores and socioeconomic realities.

Rash switches back and forth from a modern-day meth addict to a post-Civil War preacher who must end an old war feud. More than a few of the tales shine, and the yin-yang of winners and losers plays a little differently each time.

“Cherokee,” the story of a couple’s attempt to save their behind-payments truck at the mountain casino resort, brings a sad smile.

“Where the Map Ends,” about slaves trying to escape over the mountains, peels back prejudices.

Rash doesn’t do any genre-shaking here, but he does give it a few good rattles.

Reviewer Bo Petersen is an environmental reporter at The Post and Courier.