Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories (Hardcover)
October 2015 Indie Next List
“This collection is Campbell at her best and most audaciously appealing. At the center of each of these stories is a fierce, floundering, and unmistakably familiar woman. Mother of a daughter in some instances but always a caretaker, aware of and struggling with a hellish truth, or at justified peace with her right to impose her flawed self on a tragic other. These women's violations -- both endured and perpetrated -- are most certainly recognizable, and their stories are stunning. Booksellers, tell your customers. Friends, tell your people. Mothers, tell your daughters. Read this book!”
— Joanna Parzakoni (E), Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
From the author of National Book Award finalist American Salvage comes a dazzling and suspenseful new story collection.
Named by the Guardian as one of our top ten writers of rural noir, Bonnie Jo Campbell is a keen observer of life and trouble in rural America, and her working-class protagonists can be at once vulnerable, wise, cruel, and funny. The strong but flawed women of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters must negotiate a sexually charged atmosphere as they love, honor, and betray one another against the backdrop of all the men in their world. Such richly fraught mother-daughter relationships can be lifelines, anchors, or they can sink a woman like a stone.
In "My Dog Roscoe," a new bride becomes obsessed with the notion that her dead ex-boyfriend has returned to her in the form of a mongrel. In "Blood Work, 1999," a phlebotomist's desire to give away everything to the needy awakens her own sensuality. In "Home to Die," an abused woman takes revenge on her bedridden husband. In these fearless and darkly funny tales about women and those they love, Campbell’s spirited American voice is at its most powerful.
About the Author
Bonnie Jo Campbell teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University. The author of Once Upon a River, American Salvage, and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, she lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Like the women in her stories, Campbell’s prose can be watchful and viscerally alive.
Bonnie Jo Campbell is a master of rural America’s postindustrial landscape…. Shine each story does, just like two laughing showgirls who, Campbell writes, ‘without wigs and makeup, dressed in their jogging shorts and tanks…seemed like carefree teenage boys.’
The book thrums with powerful young women.
It's a hard-luck, hardscrabble life in the world of Bonnie Jo Campbell's stories, a landscape that's as fertile as it is unforgiving, where families crop up and wither with the weather but manage some piquant humor and moments of worthy reckoning along the way.
With grit and reverence, this story collection is gorgeous in its honesty.
Mothers, Tell Your Daughters is filled with shifts…when a turn of fate, a moment in nature, brings surprises and revealing insights. And within the turmoil and the troubles, the demands and the limits of life, Campbell reminds us, there are possibilities for moments of grace.
What it comes down to, in Campbell’s world and in ours, is that to be female is to fight all kinds of trouble with all kinds of strength.
Campbell grounds us in such graphic grit, making these lives so bitterly, relentlessly real, we want to reach through the pages and pull them to safety—aware, alas, that many would firmly refuse rescue.