Synopses & Reviews
“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.
"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
"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
“Lyrical and humorous . . . Helget deftly weaves political and social history into . . . a rich and intricate novel full of compassion for these pioneers and the place they live.” — Saint Paul Pioneer Press
“Told in a vigorous and warmly resonant prose that captures both the ridiculous and the sublime.” — Historical Novel Society
“In moments of barbarity and humility, violence and tenderness, greed and sacrifice, Helget leaves no saint without sin and no sinner without grace . . . What unfolds is a novel of portraiture — of characters, of industry, of an era and the cold realities that shaped it — that does not give up its moments of humanity lightly.”—Mankato Free Press
“In Stillwater, Helget’s latest novel, the twins grow up in a landscape filled with colorful characters: trappers, loggers, outlaws, nuns, Native Americans and runaway slaves. And the land itself is vibrant. You can see its significance from the very first words of the novel.” — NPR, Weekend Edition Saturday
“This one’s going to be a big deal. Helget’s new book, Stillwater, is so entertaining, inventive, outrageous and well-told that I’m imagining a thousand book clubs gathering over her words, filmmakers vying to make the movie, and a leap from mere critical acclaim to something more like celebrity for the Mankato writer.” — Minnpost
“Rousing fun.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Helget’s tale of frontier life in the territory of Minnesota gives stark meaning to the term ‘woebegone’ . . . This novel effectively dramatizes the seismic sociological shifts that shaped the American Midwest.” — Kirkus Reviews
“[Stillwater] often has a gothic feel, with madwomen, poisonings, and dead babies. But there is also an undercurrent of black humor, particularly in the portrayal of Beaver Jean, who is reprehensible but also a delightful comic creation.” — Library Journal
“A stunning achievement. Helget brings her keen sense for Southern Gothic to, of all places, the Northwoods of Minnesota. A fascinating story of a frontier logging town, this novel boasts a remarkable assortment of characters — Indians, slaves, trappers, missionaries, mothers and lost children — all caught up in the crosscurrents of American history. A highly touching and believable tale.” — Jonathan Odell, author of The Healing
“Make room Louise Erdrich, Minnesota has a new resident scribe. Rascally and robust, saucy and sincere and serious as a logjam, Stillwater is a celebration of this country’s coming of age from a writer staking her claim to greatness.” — Peter Geye, author of The Lighthouse Road
“A wonder of a novel, rich in history, humor and heart, with prose that flows and sparkles like a sunlit river.” — Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon and The Wilding
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.
"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
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
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.