Dr. Stephen Meats, chairman of the Department of English, said Bonnie Jo Campbell's work presents a worldview unlike any other.
"She has a very quirky perspective," Meats said. "She tends to focus on ordinary people who have strange or extraordinary problems or experiences."
Campbell's life story may be even more unusual than her characters. Born in Michigan, Campbell grew up on a farm with her mother and four siblings in a house her grandfather Herlihy built in the shape of an H.
She has since hitchhiked across the U.S. and Canada, scaled the Swiss Alps on her bicycle, and traveled with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus selling snow cones. She has organized and led adventure tours in Russia and the Baltics, and all the way south to Romania and Bulgaria.
After earning a master's degree in mathematics in 1992 she started writing fiction. Her collection "Women & Other Animals" won the prestigious Associated Writing Programs prize for short fiction; her story "The Smallest Man in the World" has been awarded a Pushcart Prize.
Other fun facts: Campbell is six feet tall and practices karate and weapons training.
"She's just an extremely interesting person with diverse interests and a very interesting outlook on the world," Meats said.
Meats said hearing authors read directly from their work is satisfying on more than one level.
"For one thing, it helps students understand that literature is a living thing," Meats said. "There are people out there writing stories and writing poems because it's their way of understanding the world and expressing that understanding to other people. And for another thing, it's frequently entertaining."
A reception will follow her reading. Campbell will speak again at 9 a.m. the next day in 302 Grubbs Hall.
Both sessions are free and open to all. Campbell's appearance is sponsored by the Student Fee Council and the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series.
For more information, call the Department of English at (620) 235-4689.
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