Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
Women and Other Animals: Stories (Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction) Hardcover – November 3, 1999
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
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 negotiate her new pride, vulnerability and exhibitionism, all rapidly developing alongside her voluptuous body. Campbell's determined, eccentric, painfully and beautifully human heroines, many of them young or poor, are touching even as they consistently remind the reader of their unpredictable, durable ferocity. (Nov.) Fiction.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Campbell's stories are alive, rich with humor and unpredictable but ultimately credible turns, keenly observed and told with a savvy narrative drive. One can feel in them the love on the part of the author for the strange, the grotesque, the eccentric; but these aspects are never treated in a way that makes the stories freakish. Campbell's ability to find the humanity in misfits as well as her strong sense of place reminds me of some of our best writers from the South."―Stuart Dybek
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The carnival or circus (where Campbell once worked) serves as backdrop for two other stories ("The Smallest Man in the World," "Gorilla Girl"), but nearly all the stories are filled with carnivalesque grotesqueries; in Campbell's hands, there isn't much difference between the parochialism of a traveling show and the eccentricities of the agoraphobiacs and oddballs who populate her version of Michigan. One of the best and certainly most memorable stories, "Eating Aunt Victoria," features a morbidly obese woman--figuratively, then literally--stuck in the house with her dead lover's children; she keeps her food hidden away under lock and key. (Obesity and eating disorders are recurring themes in Campbell's work.) Aunt Victoria seems simultaneously to resent their presence and to long for their company, and her solitude provides a stark contrast to the loneliness of the two young adults, each awkwardly undergoing a sexual awakening. Both bitterly funny and profoundly sad, the story manages to transform the statement "Every family fights" from a dismissive aside to a acknowledgment of love.
Other readers have compared Campbell to Flannery O'Connor, and I don't think the comparison is far off the mark. Campbell herself acknowledged in an interview, "I want to think of Flannery O'Connor, and Faulkner, and Steinbeck as my influences because I love them so much." O'Connor and Campbell share a fondness for Gothic atmospherics, angst-ridden nonconformists, and animals--particularly farm animals. Campbell seems less concerned, however, with two of her predecessor's overlapping obsessions: religion (or, more precisely, salvation) and the South--O'Connor's "Christ-haunted South," in Ralph Wood's enduring phrase. In other words, their stories share tone and ambiance rather than theme and ethic. Acknowledging this important difference, I do think Campbell is a worthy successor to her literary forerunner.
The thing is, no matter how grotesque or different the character, Campbell always manages to make them at the same time oh-so human, seeing past the grotesqueness or ugliness, and makes the reader see this too. And this ain't an easy hat-trick when you're talking obnoxious midgets and ornery fat ladies, ya know? (Please pardon my political UN-correctness.) WOMEN AND OTHER ANIMALS was Campbell's first book of stories, but it compares well with her second collection, American Salvage (Made in Michigan Writers Series). This short story thing? It's not an easy art form, but Campbell's got it down cold. There are sixteen stories here and not a clinker in the bunch. I mean she is GOOD!
- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir BOOKLOVER