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Q Road

A Novel

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Welcome to Q Road, in Greenland Township, where the old way of life is colliding with the new. On the same acres where farmers once displaced Potawatomi Indians, suburban developers now supplant farmers and Q road (or "Queer Road," as the locals call it) has become home to an unlikely mix of people. The neighbors include a sixth-generation farmer and his rifle-toting child bride, and evangelical bartender, a tabloid-reading agoraphobe, a philandering window salesman, and an asthmatic boy who longs for the love of a good father.These folks all smell the pig manure from the Whitby farm and share the same grand views of the Kalamazoo River and the oldest barn in the township -- until one disastrous October afternoon.

Bonnie Jo Campbell's first novel combines offbeat humor, eccentric characters, and unique insights into modern rural America, where family traditions have flown the coop and only the cycle of the seasons remains. At the heart of this tale are three characters so integrally connected and devoted to the Harland farm that they might not survive anywhere else; their lives, their livelihoods, and their sometimes violent love for one another are all rooted in the soil of this square mile.

As The Village Voice said of Campbell's story collection, she "crystallizes those moments when benumbed everyday routine is briefly jolted by dizzy instants of lucidity." It may take a spring tornado or a lightning bolt in the garden to get the folks of Q Road to pause in their work, but when they lift their gaze collectively, it can be life-altering. Brilliant atumn foliage creates the backdrop for the rich and ragged human landscape of rural southwestern Michigan, a place Campbell has explored in her award-winning short stories. In this passionate and funny novel she digs even deeper, to reveal the beauty and strangeness of her ferocious women, confused men, and hungry children.

Publishers Weekly Review

Aug 05, 2002 – A farm in rural Kalamazoo County, Mich., provides the backdrop for Campbell's appealing first novel, a May-December love story augmented by suspense, secrets and Native American mysticism. Rachel Crane, a homely, foul-mouthed teenager, lives on a houseboat with her reclusive mother, Margo. They are tenants of George Harland, whose wife abandoned him to maintain his declining farm alone. Rachel is as antisocial as her mother: her one friend is David Retakker, a young asthmatic who idolizes George. Her sexuality is awakened by George's reprobate younger brother, Johnny, but when Margo catches them together, she shoots him dead, then disappears without a trace. George becomes irresistibly drawn to the strange girl and asks her to marry him; she accepts, but just so she can inherit "his damned land," to which she feels entitled because of her Native American ancestry. Only in an extended climax, when David's life is imperiled, does Rachel begin to allow herself to feel genuine love for anything but the land. The cast of well-developed supporting characters includes April May Rathburn, an old woman with some dark secrets; her nephew, Tom Parks, a cop who's suspicious of Margo's and Johnny's disappearances; and Milton Taylor, the born-again owner of the Barn Grill. Coincidence and synchronicity—among land, animals, humans and weather—are cards Campbell (Women and Other Animals) plays too often; likewise, descriptions of Rachel's profound connection to the earth (the girl all but sprouts roots) become tiresome. However, it would take more than that to spoil this thoughtful, well-paced, deeply moral (though not moralizing) novel full of hard lessons and the wisdom gained from them across generations.
Q Road
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jun 14, 2011
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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