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Paperback American Salvage (Made in Michigan Writers Series) Book

ISBN: 0814334121

ISBN13: 9780814334126

American Salvage (Made in Michigan Writers Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

A lush and rowdy collection of short stories set in a rural Michigan landscape, where wildlife, jobs, and ways of life are vanishing.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Contemporary classic storytelling

It was a fluke I ran into American Salvage, having been turned off to reading for some time. Wow. I felt every character, didn't want the stories to end. Then I read Women & Other Animals. I do hope Bonnie Jo Campbell publishes more books. I love this author.

We need more books like this

If you're looking for a collection of short stories that have interesting characters, interesting settings, and plots with beginnings, middles and ends, and you don't want to buy a book that ends up being a showcase for an MFA's broad vocabulary and creative punctuation, this book is for you. For those of you that just slogged though my effort at an MFA sentence, I apologize. For those giving me another chance to capture your attention, I thank you. These short stories are tightly connected. All deal with people that today's knowledge based economy has left behind. In order to compete, these characters need the best possible economy, one where workers with no technical or social skills are in high demand. Some of the characters arc into people that might go onto to improve their lots in life. Others give me the keenest of understandings why some people perpetually make bad decisions. All left me trying to classify perpetually bad decision making as either a birth defect of something people work on and can reverse. What makes these disadvantaged characters unique in contemporary American literature is that they are white and of Western European descent, a category demographers tell us will be a minority by the 2040's. People often wonder why readership in the USA is so low. The answer is, because there is not enough material like this to read.

I read it; then I read it again

In the best collections of short stories the setting becomes a character as well-realized as any of the human characters. In "American Salvage," turn of the 20th Century rural Michigan, home to big, beautiful snakes, white ermine, and deer that dance across the lake, is the backdrop for people with lives of often self-inflicted drama they would never recognize as particularly dramatic. For them it is more an ache in the chest, a wistful longing for a little bit more for folks who don't have a lot and don't expect much. These sometimes explosive tales are told in an understated fashion that keep the characters believable. At the same time the revealing details, like platinum at the core of a piece of scrap metal, give the collection a savage beauty.

One Helluva Book

Here's the straight poop, as they say: American Salvage is a really great read. I could just end it there, but that doesn't feel like enough. Okay, Campbell's characters are really intriguing, and she puts them in strange and sometimes bizarre situations that get at some pretty big human truths. The truths . . . no matter who we are we are prone to addiction, wanting safety, and wanting to love and be loved. We are afraid and we are brave. We get ourselves behind hopeless plans, and sometimes find they are the only plans for us . . . and sometimes we make them work. All of these truths are truths we already know, but in the hands of a story teller like Campbell . . . well, she just takes the reader on a really cool trip. I'm just fascinated by the situation in her "Storm Warning" when the main character, nearly crippled from a boating accident, can't believe that his girlfriend of six months saved his life, rescued him from drowning. So pig-headed and afraid is he that when he returns from the hospital, he drives her away. He finds himself alone in a hospital bed in his house, watching as a horrendous storm blows in, knocking out power around the lake. Helpless, unable to even get a glass of water, he swallows his Vicodin with saliva. He's so utterly alone . . . and he's put himself there. I mean, you have to buy the book just to see how that one turns out. You should buy the book, too, because Bonnie Jo is a Michigan writer. Seriously, you won't be disappointed. Campbell is simply a great writer worth reading.

American Salvage

I just finished Bonnie Jo Campbell's latest book of short stories, AMERICAN SALVAGE (Wayne State University Press, 2009). This is a fascinating book full of 3-D characters who jump off the page. These are people trying to get by, and many times not succeeding, in a world where other people seem to have it all. There are farm families looking for the next way to break even. There are drunks and drug users who try to balance out their lives through violence or love. There are many who remember their best days which are firmly behind them, sometimes in high school, sometimes much earlier. Many of the characters are workers though some not regularly. For others, their steady jobs in the papermills or other factories are far more regular then their off-duty time. My favorite is the dark "Storm Warning" where an accident leaves a man to play out all his anxieties and fears in the midst of a gathering monster of a thunderstorm. Though the title is taken from one of the stories in the collection, it as well could signify the way these well- developed characters and their lives are tossed about to become a flotsam and jetsam of modern life. Everyone in Michigan may enjoy the tie some stories have to the greater Kalamazoo area that Bonnie Jo Campbell calls home. Add this one to the summer (or late spring) reading pile.
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