And Other Stories
by Leah Hampton
Pub Date 19 May 2020
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F*ckface is a brassy, bighearted debut collection of twelve short stories about rurality, corpses, honeybee collapse, and illicit sex in post-coal Appalachia.
The twelve stories in this knockout collection—some comedic, some tragic, many both at once—examine the interdependence between rural denizens and their environment.
A young girl, desperate for a way out of her small town, finds support in an unlikely place. A ranger working along the Blue Ridge Parkway realizes that the dark side of the job, the all too frequent discovery of dead bodies, has taken its toll on her. Haunted by his past, and his future, a tech sergeant reluctantly spends a night with his estranged parents before being deployed to Afghanistan. Nearing fifty and facing new medical problems, a woman wonders if her short stint at the local chemical plant is to blame. A woman takes her husband’s research partner on a day trip to her favorite place on earth, Dollywood, and briefly imagines a different life.
In the vein of Bonnie Jo Campbell and Lee Smith, Leah Hampton writes poignantly and honestly about a legendary place that’s rapidly changing. She takes us deep inside the lives of the women and men of Appalachia while navigating the realities of modern life with wit, bite, and heart.
“Extraordinary and heart-wrenching. These stories ache with the unspoken truths about what it means to be a woman in this world; they are a testament to everything our bodies carry. Through characters who stay with you long after reading, Leah Hampton will demolish your expectations about modern Appalachia, make you laugh, then break your heart. A truly remarkable debut.”–Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept
“Hampton writes about Appalachia with such sharpness, such clear-eyed compassion. These stories are deceptively simple—a firefighter’s marriage dissolves, a woman meets an old classmate, a beloved coworker quits—until they are not. These stories take you apart slowly, piece by piece, and by the time you realise what’s happening, it’s already too late. The stories are in your blood now. They live in you, with all their strangeness and decay, isolation and comfort, hellscapes and moments of grace.”–Rachel Heng, author of Suicide Club
“In a voice firmly grounded and unwavering, Leah Hampton writes with an honesty and authority seldom realized so early in a career. These stories are fully matured, raising big questions, providing no easy answers, and leaving us to linger for more. Hampton has staked her claim as a writer to watch and I for one will not turn away.”–David Joy, author of The Line That Held Us