Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Karen Russell's "Vampires in the Lemon Grove"

     As with her two previously published works (Swamplandia! and St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves- also a collection of short stories) Vampires in the Lemon Grove borders on the bizarre. Each short story makes me wonder if Russell wakes up in the morning with a question, such as: "what happens when a president dies?" or "where does silk come from?" and then answers them for herself- "Oh, he becomes a reincarnated horse!" and "kidnapped, furry, mutant girls, of course!".

    Yet the beauty in this collection of haunting, awkward and even grotesque stories doesn't lie only in the breadth of Russell's imagination and her penchant for the otherworldly. The real strength of Russell's writing comes forth in the gracious curve of her sentences and her uncanny ability to balance narrative diction with lyrical syntax. She makes it appear effortless. Reading her stories is like watching a tightrope walker meander on a tiny wire above your head, and feeling certain that the acrobat will never fall. For anyone who enjoys the artistry of well-crafted fiction, Vampires in the Lemon Grove is not to be missed.

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