Leah Hampton’s new story collection, F*ckface, nails the Appalachian region with such precision and range it could be held up as an example of how when done well, a strong sense of place can almost become a character in itself. Like any good story collection, Hampton’s twelve stories share thematic elements, but each are very different—texturally, yes, but in setting, too ... Each shows a large range, both in Hampton’s chops and this region, creating an unapologetic yet compassionate portrayal of these Appalachian characters ... What makes F*ckface notable isn’t only the way Hampton sets up these conflicts in her often subtle, artful way, it’s also how she handles the tone of each story, tucking in sharp language and humor amongst the thick emotional tone—resulting in pitch perfect narratives ... Not every story here is a strong standalone, but together these twelve stories make up an impressive debut marking Leah Hampton as a writer worth watching.
If literary prizes were awarded for the best opening lines, Leah Hampton would be a bookies’ favourite ... by turns smart, funny and moving ... Hampton’s figures are also alert to connection with a little-known other, or with nature. And in these vignettes of their lives, it’s impossible to not care about each one of them ... Hampton challenges the stereotypes of the region and its politics ... Hampton sketches plots part-told, connections half-formed and breaking points near-reached, yet each of these stories is complete, and marks the arrival of an incisive new voice in American fiction.
... a piercing debut. The collection of 12 fictional short stories are affecting in their portrait of the human condition. Interweaving humor and critical commentary, Hampton champions the voice of rural Appalachia. Her strength is characterization, with each short story fully developing empathy and honesty. Her characters are flawed, but without alienating her readers, Hampton ensures each story delivers a recognizable parable ... Vibrant descriptions of the woodlands, the smoky mountains, and rural landscapes strengthen Hampton's narratives and temper the bleak subjects she undertakes ... F*ckface's realness provides a picture into a community while engendering the voices of its denizens.