Mothers, Tell Your Daughters.
Booklist Reviews 2015 August #1
*Starred Review* Campbell follows her first novel, Once upon a River (2011), with her third stellar short story collection, a gathering of penetrating tales about the hidden truths of women's lives. Sparks fly from the start with "Sleepover," a breathtakingly concise, stabbing, darkly funny tale about sex and self. Male brute force and female struggles underlie the deeply disturbing "Playhouse," in which a brother fails to protect the sister who adores him. In each subsequent, visceral, surprising, pitch-perfect tale, Campbell strides further into the swamp of sexual conflicts and trauma, from routine contempt to rape, telling tales not of good and evil, but rather of soul-wringing emotional complexity and epic grit. Mothers try to prevent their daughters from making the mistakes they made, while daughters who have no intention of emulating their mothers are nonetheless swept up by the timeless torrent of desire, angst, and loss. Campbell's narrators—women who farm, drive a truck, work as cashier, phlebotomist, biology teacher, and upholsterer, and travel with a circus—are mesmerizing, each voice distinctly rich in confusion, wisdom, and humor. From a bittersweet variation on the Lolita predicament to a cheating dead ex-fiancé possibly reincarnated as a dog to the title story, a tour de force performed by a tough old gal whose life has been shaped by grueling chores, a "fearsome" husband, six children, and sexual crimes, Campbell delivers 16 commanding, piquant, and reverberating stories about womanhood besieged and triumphant. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Promotion for National Book Award finalist Campbell's droll and powerful new book will include an author tour, media coverage, and reading group outreach. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2015 May #2
Campbell smashed into our consciousness with her terrific 2009 academic-press story collection, American Salvage, a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Her subsequent novel, Once upon a River, got big praise, too, but her short fiction really shines. Here she focuses on the complicated relationships of working-class women.[Page 54]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2015 August #1
Strong writing holds the readers' attention in Campbell's collection of dark, offbeat stories. In the title piece, the narrator, who has survived much sorrow through toughness, tells her life story from a hospice bed. Her dying wish is for her kin to make her funeral a real bash. In "My Dog Roscoe," a woman suspects that a stray dog rescued by her husband is a reincarnation of her sexy former boyfriend, Oscar. When the dog exhibits behavior reminding her of Oscar, she talks to the dog as if he is Oscar, telling him more than once how he betrayed her. In "Daughters of the Animal Kingdom," 47-year-old Jill is pregnant with her fifth child, her mother has cancer, her youngest daughter is also pregnant, and her marriage is on the rocks. She compares herself to a queen bee past her prime who can no longer cling to life. Throughout, mothers and daughters struggle with bad luck, bad choices, and bad men; there's always an imbalance of power in their relationships, never in their favor. VERDICT Following critical acclaim for her novel Once upon a River, Campbell tells bittersweet stories of unbearable heartache, sadness, and sometimes love. She once explained to an interviewer that she wants to look honestly at whatever event is unfolding, and she has delivered that truthfulness in the stories in this exhilarating collection. [See Prepub Alert, 4/20/15.]—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO[Page 90]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2015 August #1
After 2011's novel Once upon a River, National Book Award–finalist Campbell returns to the realm of food stamps, liquored nights, and deadbeat men in an aptly titled short story collection populated by beleaguered mothers and their tetchy, trouble-courting offspring. In "To You, as a Woman," a gang-rape victim and single mother laments her later irresponsible choices and contemplates the fate of her two young children while waiting for STD lab results. The paranoid maternal figure in "Tell Yourself" drives away her new beau after wrongfully accusing him of showing an interest in her teenage daughter. In "My Dog Roscoe," a hormonal and pregnant new bride imagines her dead ex-fiancé inhabiting the soul of a stray dog in need of adoption. The title story unfolds as a sprint-down-memory-lane rant from a hospice-bound, cancer-ridden woman to her daughter. "Forgive me, even if I can't say I'm sorry," she says—an apology uttered in one way or another by many of the mothers in this collection. Campbell has made a career chronicling the triumphs and hardships of the perpetually marginalized, with an acute talent for airing the dirty laundry of tough-as-nails, ill-treated women. And though this new batch traverses similar territory instead of, perhaps, something new, most of the stories succeed so thoroughly that it's hard not to think: if it's not broke, don't fix it. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC