Once Upon a River
Bonnie Jo Campbell
W.W. Norton: 348 pp., $25.95
Bonnie Jo Campbell's "American Salvage" was one of the standout books of 2009 — a collection of 14 stories so sharp they made you bleed. In one, a hunter hits a teenage girl with his car on a foggy morning roadside, then must resist the urge to "use her body" while they wait for an ambulance to arrive. In another, a man quickly cycles through his options for dealing with a meth-addicted wife, only to realize, as if he didn't know it from the outset, that he has no choice but to carry on.
These are brutal stories, set in rural Michigan (Campbell lives in Kalamazoo),...