American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Lisa Lepore
Library Director

This collection of stories about poor and working class white people in Michigan is stunning. It is perfectly crafted, the content both lovely and terrible, the language precise and elegant even in its casualness, the way in which place is significant, marbled throughout the stories. It feels like Bonnie Jo Campbell allows things to be seen and is less interested in showing. She is bold in what she writes about, characters who struggle, who sometimes suck at life who know life sucks yet they keep getting up, seeking ways out and ways in. Here are the hunger games.

This work is by far one of my favorite short story collections, one of my favorite works. Like The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates, and Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, American Salvage wears a crown, reigns supreme.
“A Conversation with Bonnie Jo Campbell,” Geeta Kothari, The Kenyon Review
“Boar Taint,” Bonnie Jo Campbell
“Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Rural Michigan Gothic,” Jane Smiley, New York Times

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