Matt's Reviews > Women and Other Animals: Stories

Women and Other Animals by Bonnie Jo Campbell
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's review
Feb 15, 2010

really liked it

I shied away from reading this book for a lot of years, having seen some of the stories in workshop and feeling like I wasn't all that interested in then. But way turns on to way, as we all know, and finally it's time to read these, and maybe it was the time away, but I really enjoyed these, even some of those that I remember, which seem better now, more realized and interesting and fuller and stranger than I remember.

This isn't a perfect collection: Bonnie writes two kinds of stories here, comic ones about people in town, and then tragic ones about folks in the country, and that's a little odd, since I think it kind of patronizes both groups by how orthodox her approach is here-- a story about funny misfits in the country, or a serious one about kids in high school would go a long way. And while some of these stories have jagged and strange shapes, many of the others progress toward conflicts and then resolutions that you can kind of see coming as the machinery of story gears up-- the conflict and resolution don't feel fake or unearned, just telegraphed in ways.

That said, some dynamite stories, including the last one ("Bringing Home the Bones") that kept me feeling like I'd been punched in the face and made me want to cry, even though I'm pretty sure it doesn't end as much as peter out. I will track down a copy of _American Salvage_ and try to read Bonnie's stuff more consistently, and with more charity, in the years to come.
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