“Short story collection by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Theme of women surviving the cruelest circumstances and doing so with humor and courage.”
#5 of 35 from
My Homies: Michigan Literary Favorites
The 16 stories in this bold and eloquent debut collection feature women from Michigan's Lower Peninsula who bite, claw, flee from danger and follow their instincts, revealing their untamed inner selves. In "Circus Matinee," an escaped tiger stalks Big Joanie as she distributes snow cones to a circus audience. Several stories juxtapose the beautiful and the grotesque. In one, a local beauty contemplates a future with "The Smallest Man in the World"; in "Eating Aunt Victoria," a teenage girl and her brother come to terms with their late mother's gruff lesbian lover; in "The Perfect Lawn," an adolescent boy obsessed with a cheerleader also finds room in his fantasies to include her alcoholic, desperate mother. Campbell portrays misfits in middle America's economic and social fringe with subtle irony, rich imagery and loving familiarity, describing domestic worlds where Martha Stewart would fear to tread. In "Bringing Home the Bones," a Holocaust survivor and farmer's widow scalds herself badly while canning beans, and ends up losing her leg, the accident causing her to rekindle her relationship with her two daughters. Campbell's protagonists are hard on themselves, but sympathy is often forthcoming from unexpected sources. The young protagonist of "The Fishing Dog" depends on the men she meets to care for her, and it is her good fortune to fall in with a gentle, patient fellow who welcomes her to his riverside fishing shack. In another tale, a junior high school girl learns to ...