I’ll begin with an early warning: I can’t be objective about Bonnie Jo Campbell. I’m a fan. I love her dark, twisted, often funny stories and how she’s willing to take them as far as they will go, and then, even further. I love the sunny, ever-optimistic way she lives her life. I’m in awe of how she’s very serious and disciplined about her writing, but playful when it comes to presenting herself as a writer, despite her burgeoning reputation as a leading author of what’s been called “rural America’s postindustrial landscape.” What other writer, compared to the great Flannery O’Connor, would show up at appearances for her short story collection Mothers, Tell Your Daughters with Flannery herself at her side, or rather a lifesize, cardboard version of Flannery?
Flannery won’t be with us when Bonnie Jo appears as the featured writer on Friday October 28 at Stories on Stage Sacramento, but she is bringing something just as fun – comics! The graphic artist Monica Friedman, a former student of Bonnie Jo’s (as am I – full disclosure) created six-panel versions of all sixteen stories in Mothers Tell Your Daughters, and we’ll have copies of the entire book at the event. “Daughters of the Animal Kingdom” is the story we’ve selected to be read, and here’s the graphic interpretation.
What else about Bonnie Jo? Nearly too much to report, and that’s just about her writing. Mothers Tell Your Daughters recently won the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association’s Great Lakes, Great Reads Award for Adult Fiction. She is also author of the novel Q Road and its prequel, the New York Times best-seller Once Upon A River. Her previous short story collection American Salvage was a finalist for the National Book Award AND the National
Book Critics Circle Award. Her first story collection, Women and Other Animals, won the AWP Award for Short Fiction. She’s a Guggenheim Fellow. She’s won a Pushcart Prize, the Eudora Welty Prize, and the 2009 CBA Letterpress Chapbook Award for her poetry collection Love Letters to Sons of Bitches. She teaches in the Low-Residency Program at Pacific University, and next spring, she will serve as the Mary Rogers Field and Marion Field-McKenna Distinguished University Professor of Creative Writing at DePauw University. When she’s not writing or teaching or making appearances or giving readings she tends to her two donkeys, Jack and Don Quixote, raises chickens, practices martial arts, rides her bike long distances, brings in the hay on her mother’s farm and makes an exemplary elderberry wine. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband, Christopher. www.bonniejocampbell.com.
It’s always a pleasure when a former “emerging” writer becomes a featured writer, and this month we are very happy to welcome back Kristin Fitzpatrick. Her first short story collection, My Pulse is an Earthquake, was published in 2015 by West Virginia University Press. Her work has appeared in Colorado Review, The Southeast Review, Best of Gival Press Short Stories, Epiphany, and Ventura County Star. Her writing has also been chosen for the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and The New Short Fiction Series. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Jentel Artist Residency Program and The Seven Hills School. Originally from Michigan, she now lives in California and teaches writing at CSU Channel Islands. There’s more at her website www.kristinfitzpatrick.com
Our readers this month are two Stories on Stage audience favorites: Kelley Ogden and Tara Henry.
Kelley Ogden is an accomplished performer, director and producer whose work has been seen throughout the area. Co-founder of acclaimed fringe theater company, KOLT Run Creations, Kelley has performed with Capital Stage (most recently in How to Use A Knife and The Totalitarians,) Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, Main Street Theatre Works and Theater Galatea among others. Kelley earned her BFA in Performance from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago.
Back for the 4th time at Stories on Stage, Tara Henry is a familiar face to local theatre-
goers. Recent performances include roles in Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and The Fantasticks at Sacramento Theatre Company; Emma in The Behavior of Broadus at Capital Stage, and Dromio in A Comedy of Errors at the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, among many other Shakespeare productions. She also appeared as a Fantasy Festival 28 cast member with the B Street Theatre.
Our featured writer for October
Bonnie Jo Campbell
author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
with Kristin Fitzpatrick
readings by Kelley Ogden and Tara Henry
Friday, October 28, 7:30 PM at the Auditorium at CLARA
(The E Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts)
a $10 donation is suggested
As we end our seventh season, Stories on Stage Sacramento continues to be proud of the excellence in literary fiction we have presented to a growing Sacramento audience. Last year’s featured writers included Tobias Wolff, Elena Mauli Shapiro, Sharma Shields, Ann Packer, Karen Bender, Kathryn Ma, T. Geronimo Johnson, Bonnie ZoBell, Adam Johnson, and Naomi Williams. This year we presented Anthony Marra, Vendela Vida, Kim Stanley Robinson, Lori Ostlund, Mary Volmer, Jodi Angel, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and, in a new partnership with the Los Rios Community Colleges, created an evening devoted to the best writing from their prize-winning literary magazines. As a completely volunteer organization, supported by donations, we’re elated by the fine writers we’ve brought to Sacramento, some of them for the first time, and excited to continue to present more fine writing read by actors to Sacramento lovers of literature.