Edward Campagnola has a story to tell. Currently living as an unsheltered resident in Sonoma County, he spent the last five years writing his story, and last year he released his debut novel, Directions to the Dumpster.
Now available on Amazon.com, the book traces Campagnola’s journey in homelessness and his attempts to get out of it. The book also dispel preconceptions about homelessness and combats the stigma of it with a call for awareness and compassion.
“I’ve been in a cave really for five years,” Campagnola says. “You’re lucky if you have a phone, you know what day it is. I would lose days if I didn’t have a phone, but having it is a security risk.”
This glimpse into Campagnola’s daily experience is one of the book’s many details that dissolves the reader’s veil of ignorance and exposes them to the reality of what unsheltered residents go through day to day.
The title of the book, Directions to the Dumpster, is a phrase Campagnola uses literally and figuratively. He argues that in a capitalist society, the homeless are seen as worthless, while they also often get directions to the dumpster when they reach out for help.
Originally from New Jersey, Campagnola traveled to New Orleans, Houston and Las Vegas after the death of his wife. At one point in his travels he suffered a violent, random attack on a California-bound Greyhound bus that left him with PTSD. When he arrived in Sonoma County, words began to pour out of him. Campagnola wrote the novel as a form of therapy, as a way to reconnect with his adult children and to give society a better understanding of homelessness in America.
Campagnola describes his book as a documentary-style narrative, detailing events as they occurred and letting the reader make their own personal connection.
Though Campagnola secured a publisher, the book is an entirely DIY experience, with Campagnola editing and promoting the book on his own. The road to publishing was a long one, but he’s ready to do it again.
“The book’s a cliffhanger,” Campagnola says. “I’ve already started writing the sequel. The title will be Directions Home.”
‘Directions to the Dumpster’ is available online.