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Paperback Q Road Book

ISBN: 0743203666

ISBN13: 9780743203661

Q Road

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Combining the modern-farm-life realities of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres with the quirky humor and eccentric characters of Carolyn Chute's The Beans of Egypt, Maine, Q Road is a charming debut from Bonnie Jo Campbell. Greenland Township, Michigan: On the same acres where farmers once displaced Potawatomi Indians, suburban developers now supplant farmers and prefab homes spring up in last year's cornfields. All along Q Road--or "Queer Road," as the...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Quirky, quaint and quite wonderful

Campbell's book revolves around a quirky cast of characters in rural Michigan: foul-mouthed, child-bride Rachel, her husband George, and her best friend, asthmatic, 12-year-old David, to name a few. The story itself is not particularly remarkable, but Campbell's writing makes you want to not miss a moment.Rifle-toting Rachel, abandoned by her distant, fur-trapping mother, marries the much older George Harland, a down-on-his-luck farmer, because she wants his land. She grows to love him in her own weird, tacit way. She also loves David, who becomes even more devoted to the mysterious Rachel after his near-death experience in a burning barn. There are some more neighborhood characters thrown into the mix, but you get to know these three the best. There wasn't so much in the way of a plot, it was really just a simple story, beautifully written, about loving the place you live and the people who live there, about getting lost, even in familiar territory, and finding your way back with the help of family and friends.

Not for the faint of heart.

Q Road is not for the faint of heart. Author Bonnie Jo Campbell takes you down a Michigan side-road to a rough-hewn world of brutally flawed characters. No sparkling wits, no dreamy introverts here; rather these misshapen and misfortuned people struggle through each and every day. Cantankerous and eccentric, they are driven to alienate kin and neighbors alike. Victims of violent acts of their past, broken marriages, rural recession and self-abuse, they gain pleasure from the misery of others.Around them caterpillars are splattered under the wheels of cars, crows munch the remains of road-kill squirrels and cats devour birds, all in a landscape haunted by the death-march of the indigenous Potawatomi Indians. Out of this harsh reality, Campbell builds a story of grittiness, purpose and great humor that is suddenly jarred by a tragedy. An act of carelessness not malice, it threatens to overwhelm the community and break their spirit. In Campbell's competent hands, there is no hysterical reaction and no desperation, just people digging deeper and accepting less. Q Road becomes a road to recovery. No giant steps, no minor miracles, just a poignant reminder that the human spirit needs just small kindnesses to prevail. Bonnie Jo Campbell has, rightly, been described as a fresh new voice in American literature. This, her first novel, should be the launching point for a distinguished career.

A world of memorable characters

While I picked up this book because of the story's location, (outside Kalamazoo, Michigan where my daughter lives,) I was immediately drawn into this rural world peopled by an array of eclectic and sympathetic characters struggling with the onslaught of family farms being devoured by development. The plot revolves around one man's attempt to continue farming against the odds (and fate itself.) While the theme is both grand and timely, it is the people who live on Q Road that make this book one of the most absorbing books I have read in some time. Bonnie Jo Campbell has a gift for bringing a range of characters to life, and every one is both unique and believable and unlike any characters that have gone before. Parts are so beautifully written I had to read them several times, just to feel the goosebumps raise up on my skin from the sheer beauty and power of her words. When I finished, I wanted to begin again, for I was reluctant to leave these people and this world behind. I came away feeling that I had lived this story and cared deeply about the characters and most importantly about the land itself.


It would be wrong of me not to plug this book, since I canremember nothing in the last couple of years that is bothstirring and still steeped in mystery. This book glows with the land-bound energy of thousands of lives, and not a wooly bear orblack eyed susan can do anything if not reverberate against the template of all that human despair and exhilaration in the name of survival. Larry Brown and Chris Offutt are peers, but Campbell is more evocative than Brown, and more subtle thanOffutt. It's eroticand devastatingly funny, but when you finish there is a gestaltone feels, because the love of the land AND its inhabitants (the two go together) in this thing grows largeras you read, and the small, individual scenes sink into the book's larger purposes, which is to lament, with love, the present tense as it slides past, turning into history, the kind of history that is writ large in landscapes when one is attentive. In the past I've thought I've heard voices in old ruined houses, at dusk, out in some woods, and Q Road reminds me of those small transcendent moments on earth. There are plentyof stories embedded in this novel, and they all smolder beautifully together. I loved this book, and I hope a million readers discover Q Road and Bonnie Jo Campbell.
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