A lush and rowdy collection of stories set in a rural Michigan landscape, where wildlife, jobs, and ways of life are vanishing.
Donna Seaman*Starred Review* The houses are ramshackle, the trucks hard-used, the weather extreme. The men, clad in shabby camouflage, are battered and scarred. They labor at dangerous, soul-killing jobs; hunt; drink too much; and stand by their loved ones no matter how flat-out crazy they are (or they think about killing them). Ditto for the women. Money is tight; the old ways and the precious wildlife are disappearing; loneliness is a plague; and the meth-cookers keep burning down the house. Welcome to rural Michigan, Campbell’s home ground, and a story collection of rare impact. These fine-tuned stories are shaped by stealthy wit, stunning turns of events, and breathtaking insights. Terrible injuries, accidental and otherwise, leave people and animals in misery, but they are salvaged, maybe even healed. Against all odds, salvation counterbalances loss and despair in unexpected ways in this small place of big feelings, where everyone is yoked together for better and worse, and where, as one persistent survivor observes, “what looked like junk to most people could be worth real money.” Campbell’s busted-broke, damaged, and discarded people are rich in longing, valor, forgiveness, and love, and readers themselves will feel salvaged and transformed by this gutsy book’s fierce compassion.
Los Angeles Times“Campbell’s an American voice—two parts healthy fear, one part awe, one part irony, one part realism.”
Chicago Tribune“In these stories about cold, lonely, meth-drenched, working-class Michigan life, there’s a certain beauty reaching something like the sublimity of a D. H. Lawrence story.”
Booklist“Starred Review. These fine-tuned stories are shaped by stealthy wit, stunning turns of events, and breath-taking insights. Campbell’s busted-broke, damaged, and discarded people are rich in longing, valor, forgiveness and love, and readers themselves will feel salvaged and transformed by the gutsy book’s fierce compassion.”
Chicago Literary Scene Examiner“The effect of American Salvage is that Campbell’s Michigan lingers and cannot be ignored or forgotten.”
Small Press Review“‘Beware ye who enter here,’ and yet you should and must because the work is so fine and truthful and deeply human, And you will surely know yourself and your world better for having come.”
Laura Kasischke“A strong collection. The pieces are rich in original detail, and highly atmospheric, while maintaining a satisfying sense of familiar territory, local voices.”
Rachael Perry“American Salvage is not a book for the cowardly. These daring stories, these desperate characters, would just as soon steal your wallet, break your heart or punch you in the gut than openly admit that redemption is possible during these dark times. But it is just this improbable hope that makes her work brilliant. This is Bonnie Jo Campbell at her bravest and best.”
Jack Driscoll“At their best these stories reflect what Robert Lowell refers to as ‘the grace of accuracy,’ which might simply be a way of saying that the voice overall convinces at every turn. By voice I mean personality, and these quirky, surprising, sometimes arcane and visceral and big-hearted stories resonate in ways that keep me nodding. . . . I love the risk of each story and how, in the midst of hilarity, a much more serious concern unfolds so that I’d find myself both laughing out loud and squeezing my heart dry simultaneously.”
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