Bonnie Jo Campbell
That quote picks up the title's hint that what we are dealing with here is more in the realm of myth than of any formulaic realism, even when the environment so lovingly described is very clearly the one we see outside our car windows when we drive down I-94. Margo sees things in the world around her, and she learns from them. She is also a crack shot (her only hero is Annie Oakley--the only book she knows is a child's biography of that western hero). Here is something she learns from a deer she has just shot:
As the deer hit the ground, it seemed to sigh. From its mouth tumbled a gray bird, a mourning dove, with its dark eyes bulging and darting and then closing.So Bonnie Jo Campbell has created a myth of our time, of a girl alone on a river, who learns, like the old wise women of legend, from the environment around her. Campbell is once again writing brilliantly against the grain.
She wanted to cry out in surprise, complain that a deer couldn't be trying to eat a bird. But she knew that it was better to stay calm and learn, to trust in what she saw. She nudged the deer's chest with her foot to make sure it was dead, and a flurry erupted beside her. The dove woke up and launched itself into the air.
Bonnie Jo Campbell reads from Once Upon the River at Nicola's on Tuesday, July 19.
[Originally published in July, 2011.]