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Bonnie Jo Campbell

Teoksen Once Upon a River tekijä

6+ Works 1,509 Jäsentä 105 arvostelua 7 Favorited

Tekijän teokset

Once Upon a River (2011) 732 kappaletta
American Salvage (2009) 400 kappaletta
Mothers, Tell Your Daughters (2015) 156 kappaletta
Q Road (2002) 124 kappaletta
Women & Other Animals (1999) 86 kappaletta
The Waters: A Novel (2024) 11 kappaletta

Associated Works

Shadow Show (2012) — Avustaja — 356 kappaletta
Our Working Lives: Short Stories of People and Work (2000) — Toimittaja, eräät painokset6 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla




Rose Cottage sat in the middle of a marsh, the home of Herself. She made herbal remedies for the people of Whiteheart, Michigan. She had raised three girls; her biological daughter, Molly, a doctor; the foundling Primrose, a lawyer in California; and Rose Thorne, the most beautiful and charismatic, but laziest, of all. Then, there was Rose Thorne’s daughter Dorothy, nicknamed Donkey because she had been raised on donkey milk.

Rose Thorne and Titus Jr. are in love, but she will not marry him, for she cannot share the secret of Donkey’s birth with him. She has been away for almost two years, living with Primrose in California. Donkey badly misses her mother.

Donkey has spent her life in the marsh. She has never been to school or been around menfolk. Herself draws up the bridge to the mainland at night. Donkey’s huge heart and attachment to animals, makes her prone to choices that do not end well.

The marsh is home to Mississauga rattlesnakes and mosquitos and wild plants and flowers. the women keep two donkeys and a goat and chickens, and forage the marsh. They have everything they need.

The townspeople both depend on Herself’s cures and fear her strange witchy ways. Men sometimes shoot their guns towards the hidden cottage. When the charismatic Rose Thorne returns home, she attracts the townsfolk around her, and they build bonfires at night and bring out alcohol and instruments, partying all night long.

Donkey does not know the hidden history of her family. Why Herself sent away a beloved husband. Why Primrose moved so far away. The identity of her father. And why her mother keeps leaving and won’t marry Titus Jr. But she knows she looks like Titus Jr. and longs for them to marry, to have a father at last.

There are threats all around. The marsh and farm land has been polluted by chemicals, new cancers have arisen that Herself cannot cure. The marsh is haunted by a ghost. And some menfolk fear and hate Herself, and loathe her ministrations to solve women’s burdens and problems.

The novel reads like a dark fairy tale and spools out like a suspense thriller, but with deep explorations into the characters inner thoughts and motivations. Ominous threats are ever present; you expect an inevitable tragedy to take place. And tragedies do happen, and have happened, losses and changes and revelations that alter Donkey’s life.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book.
… (lisätietoja)
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nancyadair | Nov 16, 2023 |
It is relevant to note, as I have before in GR, that I grew up in Michigan and my mother told me that after the first time she took me to NYC when I was three my only response to the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was "a New Yorker. I was a pretty self-actualized 3-year-old. My parents refused to pay for an out-of-state college (which I totally understand, when I went to Michigan State tuition was $71.50 a credit hour) so I left MI after college graduation -- 3 days after to be precise. But still, I feel an attachment to my home state for many reasons, despite never (ever!) again wanting to live there. MI has spectacular natural beauty (especially the west side of the state with Lake Michigan and Lake Superior showing off a whole lot of perfection) and also IMO a fascinating if brutal history, excellent spare ribs, Sander's hot fudge cream puffs, the stunning Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and a really good zoo. Also, Michigan has a surprising number of really great writers to its credit. Most of those writers are from Michigan but some remained and others left and returned. Bonnie Jo Campbell is one of that last group. For a long time she was a Chicago writer from rural southwestern MI, but for reasons that honestly baffle me she returned to Michigan where she lives rather close to another writer who will be on my best of the year list this year, Diane Seuss. My bafflement at Campbell's return does not stem entirely from me projecting my feelings about living there. Mostly it is baffling because Campbell writes about living in rural southwestern Michigan, and it sounds really truly awful.

The people we meet in this brilliant collection are uniformly unhappy. Most everyone is an alcoholic or addicted to meth and/or is the intimate partner or child of an addict or alcoholic, Many experience relentless suicidal ideation. Almost all are poor, some living in shocking want. Everyone here struggles to maintain any meaningful relationships, and even if those exist all appear to feel profoundly lonely much of the time (the exception is the last story, Boar Taint, in which the MC just seems like a searcher in a difficult but satisfying life passage.) The loneliness is what broke me. This book is filled with really bad people, Michigan Militia wannabes, and a few good people who cannot seem to win against the onslaught of bad. With every character though, even the murderers and rapists it is impossible to hate them.

There are touches of humor to be found here, but they are rare and more rueful than rollicking. Mostly though this is humbling and sad and so true. These are not caricatures of want at all, every character is fully drawn. When I first started this several months ago I noticed one of the top GR tags that had been applied to it was "Southern" and I laughed. I know geography education in America is terrible, but the only way Michigan is southern is if you live in Canada -- in fact, there are parts of Canada that are south of parts of Michigan. But then I realized that this reads a lot like Southern literature focused on poor White rural communities. I can hear in these stories writers like Carson McCullers, Erskine Caldwell, and even a hint or two of Faulkner. That is not to say that this is derivative, it is not, but stylistically this feels more a part of Southern lit than of Midwestern lit.

I am on a roll lately with good books after a bit of a slump -- this is going to be my top short story collection for sure, and I expect it will make the top 10 fiction choices. Campbell is a writer I have been meaning to read for years, and I think it is likely I will be moving Mothers Tell Your Daughters and Heart Like a River way up in the batting order after reading this one.
… (lisätietoja)
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Narshkite | 34 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 4, 2023 |
Two words linger in my mind when I think of author Bonnie Jo Campbell, those two words are “hard realism” and ‘grit”. In Mothers Tell Your Daughters she give us a collection of short stories about women. From hard-luck stories of women living difficult lives to poignant stories that warm your imagination, these are tales to linger over as you puzzle out their layered meanings.

The author gives us varied and meaningful stories bout working class women that have humor, wit and grace. Her writing is both lyrically descriptive and uninhibitedly earthy. She writes about how her characters respond to emotional, financial and physical catastrophes and makes each situation unique with her empathetic and darkly humorous writing.

I enjoyed being immersed in Mothers Tell Your Daughters as this author excels in writing short stories. She captures life from all sides as she writes of mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, nieces and neighbours as they struggle, cuss, and work through their heartbreak and sticky lives. Of course as in all collections of this nature, some stories spoke louder to me than others, but overall this was a very positive reading experience.
… (lisätietoja)
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DeltaQueen50 | 8 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 7, 2023 |
Literary Regionalism may have died out as a movement back in the early part of the 20th century, but certainly no one told Bonnie Campbell, LOL. Campbell writes affectionally about rural Michigan; the land, the people, their customs and rhythms of their daily lives.

Those things are again all hereIs this story.The small town of Greenland Township is on the cusp of being overrun by the phenom called suburban sprawl. Q Road (short for Queer Road) is the current line of demarkation. Here the author plants a cast of characters—some quite quirky. It’s difficult to reduce this story to a few lines; it’s easier to tell you how it starts…, Rachel lives with her mother in a houseboat on the river. When her mother disappears, Rachel carries on without telling anyone. She eventually figures out, when the food runs out, she needs to find a job…. and so our story begins.

I very much enjoyed this little novel. And while Campbell writes affectionally, and intimately about rural Michigan, the insights she gifts us are universal.

This is my fifth (of five) Bonnie Jo Campbell book.
… (lisätietoja)
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avaland | 6 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 1, 2022 |



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