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Once Upon a Riverby Bonnie Jo Campbell
Synopses & Reviews
Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier.
After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo's childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her.
Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices.
"A demonstration of outstanding skills on the river of American literature." Entertainment Weekly
"With all the fixings of a Johnny Cash song — love, loss, redemption — Campbell captures these Michiganders and their earthy, brutal paradise in tales rich with insight and well worth the trip." Elle
"Margo's struggle to survive proves irresistible, like the tug of the Stark itself." The New Yorker
"Campbell has a ruthless and precise eye for the details of the physical world....An excellent American parable about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom." Jane Smiley
Fraternal twins, separated at birth, are raised in the same small town, where they struggle for freedom from their families, their destinies, and, sometimes, each other—all with the underground railroad as a haunting presence in their lives
"Bonnie Jo Campbell has built her new novel like a modern-day craftsman from the old timbers of our national myths about loners living off the land, rugged tales as perilous as they are alluring. Without sacrificing any of its originality, this story comes bearing the saw marks of classic American literature, the rough-hewn sister of The Leatherstocking Tales, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Walden." Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Lyrical and humorous . . . A rich and intricate novel full of compassion for these pioneers and the place they live.” — Saint Paul Pioneer Press
“Vibrant.” — NPR, Weekend Edition Saturday
"Told in a vigorous and warmly resonant prose that captures both the ridiculous and the sublime.” — Historical Novel Society
Clement and Angel are fraternal twins separated at birth; they grow up in the same small, frontier logging town of Stillwater, Minnesota. Clement was left at the orphanage. Angel was adopted by the town's richest couple, but is marked and threatened by her adoptive mother's manic attention. They rarely meet, but Clement knows if he is truly in need, Angel will come. They have both learned to survive at the edge of things — amid the hardscrabble lives of pioneers, nuns, fur trappers, loggers, runaway slaves and freedmen, outlaws and people of conscience, all seeking a freer, more prosperous future. Stillwater is a lyrical, vibrant, often hilarious, and always unforgettable journey into our past, ourselves, and the impulses that drive us to create, explore, and — sometimes — destroy.
About the Author
Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of the National Book Award finalist American Salvage, Women and Other Animals, and the novels Q Road and Once Upon a River. She is the winner of a Pushcart Prize, the AWP Award for Short Fiction, and Southern Review's 2008 Eudora Welty Prize for "The Inventor, 1972," which is included in this collection. Her work has appeared in Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and Ontario Review. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she studies kobudo, the art of Okinawan weapons, and hangs out with her two donkeys, Jack and Don Quixote.
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