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American Salvage (Unabridged Audio CDs) by…
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American Salvage (Unabridged Audio CDs) (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Bonnie Jo Campbell

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2562844,720 (4)159
Member:librarianbryan
Title:American Salvage (Unabridged Audio CDs)
Authors:Bonnie Jo Campbell
Info:Recorded Books (2010), Audio CD
Collections:Read, Your library (inactive)
Rating:****
Tags:audio

Work details

American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell (2009)

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  1. 10
    The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit (Made in Michigan) by Michael Zadoorian (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both books have short stories which include a love of Michigan as their starting point.
  2. 00
    Stay Awake: Stories by Dan Chaon (DetailMuse)
  3. 00
    Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (nancyewhite)
    nancyewhite: A novel that explores some of the same themes as these stories.
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I've read two of Bonnie Jo Campbell's novels ([Once Upon a River] and [Q Road]) and loved them both. But with this collection of short stories, her talent and range are even more evident. The stories are set in Campbell's home state of Michigan, and they provide stark snapshots of criminals and meth addicts, of struggling farmers and washing machine repairmen, of people whose stories usually go untold. The details in these stories will stick with me. The young girl, a victim of sexual assault, aiming her shotgun at the tip of her uncle's penis. The brains seeping from the head of a junkyard owner who was robbed and fell into the snow. The smell of the boar, purchased for $25, on his last legs because the former owners had tried (and failed) to castrate him. These stories were not easy to read, but they made me admire the way that Campbell paints a picture and took me into worlds much different than my own. But even more than these details, I was impressed by the tender and sometimes surprising emotions that the characters exhibited toward one another. Against all odds, there were glimmers of hope, of empathy, of joy, and of love. An excellent collections of stories. ( )
  porch_reader | Sep 19, 2013 |
American Salvage is a collection of 14 short stories that was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award. All of the stories are set in Michigan, near Kalamazoo or towns close by. (In her acknowledgements, Bonnie Jo Campbell writes "the events and characters depicted in these pages are fictional, but my hometown of Comstock, Michigan, where many of these stories could have taken place, is very real.")

These are people more than down-on-their-luck; they have, in many cases, been victims of abuse or other crimes. They are meth addicts and alcoholics. In many cases, they are (or were) hard-working and unable to rise above their circumstances, either because of personal fallibles or those of the people in their lives. They're not all that easy to like, and their stories aren't easy ones to listen to.

I think they are important stories, difficult as they are, because these are the stories of so many people on the edges and fringes of society. These are the stories of the people whom we interact with and encounter in our daily life. While they might not be identical to those of the people and stories in American Salvage, and their circumstances might be different, there are more people in these types of situations than I think many of us realize (or want to realize). And with the way the economy is going, there will be more people in these circumstances.

Because of the importance of these stories, I really wished that I liked this collection much more than I did. Still, the characters seemed to blend into each other from one story to another, and at times I honestly had to check and see if I wasn't repeating myself listening to a story I'd already heard. Several also ended abruptly; I was listening to this on audio and at times thought something went amiss with the CD.

That's not to say that there aren't a few gems in this collection. I loved "World of Gas" and "Fuel for the Millennium," which both have the doomsday Y2K preparations as their theme. (They also seem connected.) In "World of Gas," I really enjoyed the character of Susan and could visualize her so easily because Campbell did a wonderful job of making her character so authentic and vivid.

Another story worth mentioning is "The Solutions to Brian's Problem," which is the matter of Brian's wife being a meth addict and the ravages of her addiction on himself and their child. The entire story is not even four pages long, but it is one of the most poignantly written ones included in American Salvage and an example of tight, precise, high-impact writing.

I listened to the audio version of American Salvage and appreciated that there were four different narrators, which alternated from each story. That made it easy for me to readily identify where I was when I hadn't been listening for awhile. At times, there did seem to be slightly longer than usual pauses between sentences, but that only occurred on a few stories and was a characteristic of one narrator as opposed to a consistent issue throughout the production.
( )
  bettyandboo | Apr 2, 2013 |
Really good writing, brings to mind a female, slightly more contemporary take on Breece D'J Pancake's territory. Dark stuff -- the characters are all injured in one way or another -- but very well done. It's all classic and not show-offy in the least. The last story, "Boar Taint," called to mind Flannery O'Connor's "Greenleaf," though with an upbeat ending -- probably the most optimistic story in the collection. Now I'm really sorry it didn't win the NBA. ( )
  lisapeet | Mar 31, 2013 |
Campbell probes deeply into the minds of the down-on-their-luck characters who inhabit this short-story collection. Using the omniscient third-person point of view, she explores the contradictions of each character’s feelings and shows how people in similar situations can behave so differently from one another. By allowing readers to understand more than one character in such detail, Campbell heightens the tension; in stories such as “King Cole’s American Salvage,” it becomes obvious that their opposing desires must collide. ( )
  amyjmerrick | Feb 8, 2013 |
This was narrated by Recorded Books “in house troupe” and I don’t know if that is good or bad. Does this troupe perform all of Recorded Books books now? Or maybe this was just a way not pay all the narrators? I’m not sure but it just seemed shady, but before every story the particular reader is named so that is good.Sorry I’m addicted to audiobooks and I’m now obsessed with giving kudos to the readers.As to the stories themselves, they are some fine working class “realist” fiction with a feminist bent. What’s not to like? So they are up my alley, but I require a little more from the language. Anything that can be so neatly pigeon is a little too easy for me, which is funny because I’m pretty most sure people thought these stories were hardcore-Dorothy-Alison-of-the-North-type sh*t. I guess I’m desensitized.Still, the line “I’ve been burned! Badly burned!” has been stuck in my head for weeks. I can’t wait to read Once Upon a River. ( )
  librarianbryan | Apr 20, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0814334865, Hardcover)

These short stories approach their subjects from an array of perspectives, but what they share is freshness, surprise, and a compulsion to plumb some absolute extremes of American existence. National Book Award citation American Salvage is rich with local color and peopled with rural characters who love and hate extravagantly. They know how to fix cars and washing machines, how to shoot and clean game, and how to cook up methamphetamine, but they have not figured out how to prosper in the twenty-first century. Through the complex inner lives of working-class characters, Bonnie Jo Campbell illustrates the desperation of post-industrial America, where wildlife, jobs, and whole ways of life go extinct and the people have no choice but to live off what is left behind.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:06 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

From the Publisher: American Salvage is rich with local color and peopled with rural characters who love and hate extravagantly. They know how to fix cars and washing machines, how to shoot and clean game, and how to cook up methamphetamine, but they have not figured out how to prosper in the twenty-first century. Through the complex inner lives of working-class characters, Bonnie Jo Campbell illustrates the desperation of post-industrial America, where wildlife, jobs, and whole ways of life go extinct and the people have no choice but to live off what is left behind.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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