Friday, October 9, 2009

T G I sappy F

I used to think short stories were stupid.

I thought they were too short to get anything accomplished. What was the point? Plus, there are a bunch of crap short stories out there.

And then, slowly, I can to realize that while - yes - there are horrible short stories, there are also magical ones. We know my favorites are Ellen Gilchrist, Alice Munro and Doris Lessing. I find myself, thanks to them, opening up to other short stories.

I am just about to finish Bonnie Jo Campbell's American Salvage. All the short stories take place at and around Comstock (MI) specifically and Kalamazoo (MI) generally. My transient lifestyle has created a romantic spot in my heart for my birthplace, but it should be noted that Kalamazoo is an amazing city. But every city has its issues, and this collection doesn't shy away from them.

It's true I only read it because my aunt photographed the cover, which my cousins are on. But now, it is so much more than that. It is a testament to my childhood, my family, and - though I almost never say it - my home.

Her idea of American salvage runs throughout the book. It is an actual place. It is people. It is a metaphor. So, while AS may not touch you like it has me, I encourage you to go out and find literature - even short stories - which embody your history.

They say literature is an escape, but is sometimes also a home.

"Men didn't understand that you couldn't let yourself be consumed with passion when there were so many people needing your attention, when there was so much work to do. Men didn't understand that there was nothing big enough to exempt you from your obligations..."
Bonnie Jo Campbell


  1. I HEART short stories. While novels capture collective moments, short stories capture one or two. And sometimes that's enough for me.

  2. Oooh! It's always hard to find new short story books. I'll have to check this out! And pick it up for my father-in-law. He's an avid reader, and from MI, so he'll love the local angle.

  3. I absolutely agree with your comment that some short stories are magical. My aunt is Ellen Gilchrist and I have treasured her work for a very long time :)