Yes, this collection of short stories is rather depressing - the subject of most stories is poor rural Americans (Michiganders, mostly). Campbell paints an incredible world of poverty, drugs and a culture I am not very familiar with, even though I may live geographically close to it. I applaud this author for bringing us these stories, even though they are hard to read at times. You feel it, you see it in your mind's eye, you are there with these characters. My favorite is " The solution to Brian's problem" where we see, in a heartbreaking way, how hard it is to escape a marriage to a meth addict. Stunning.