Named a Best Book of 2020 by Slate, Electric Literature, and PopMatters
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.
Hampton looks at modern life in post-industrial Appalachia in her sharp debut collection. In "Fuckface," Pretty, a lesbian who is just shy of 21, lives in a trailer with her dad and works as a supermarket cashier in poverty-stricken Robbinsville, N.C., a town lacking in resources to address problems such as a dead bear in the market's parking lot. Pretty, meanwhile, is afraid she'll never be able to escape her town while her crush makes frequent trips to Asheville. In "Frogs," twins Frank and Carolyn sign up for an ecology class led by a renowned naturalist. Carolyn's fitful quest for self-improvement (she gives their brochure the "same frown she had given her smudged canvas in the painting class") is botched after she feels slighted by the instructor. In "Mingo," amateur photographer Tina struggles to convince her husband of the cost of strip mining on West Virginia's natural habitat and to stop his accident-prone, elderly father from driving, while feeling her emotions and body enter a repeated phase of "hollowing out." Hampton's penetrating descriptions do a remarkable job of evoking a region where nature is dying off and tourism and mining boom and bust while the locals ponder their existence. These approachable, thought-provoking tales offer a range of insights on the characters's complicated relationships to their environment. \n