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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Incredible, May 14, 2010
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This review is from: American Salvage (Made in Michigan Writers Series) (Kindle Edition)
In a literary world where disposable books about shopaholics, arm candy and upper middle class angst are all the rage, it's nice to discover a book devoted to the lives of ordinary people. Sure, the stories in American Salvage may never get turned into hit films, but they offer up a look at American life lacking from much of today's contemporary literary fiction. The struggles of the white working class, often forgotten in the popular imagination, are the focus of this incredible collection of stories. So incredible that American Salvage was nominated for a National Book Award, which is nearly unheard of for short story collections.

Campbell's currency is the tragedy of everyday life, of people living on the margins of society, teetering toward financial and personal ruin. Meth, alcohol, crime and violence all play their part, and many of the characters are reminiscent of people I know, family members and old friends long gone. There is a indisputable honesty and truth to these stories, and though they might not always hit every beat, they always vividly bring their characters to life.

Like other readers, I am reminded of Denis Johnson's beautiful Jesus' Son (probably my favorite book of all time), although there is no central narrator to tie the stories together. Campbell's use of language and the original lives and situations she crafts are nearly as good as Johnson's, and each story ends on an emotional swell that sticks with you long after you've finished it.

Highly recommended.
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