24 April, 2013

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell [Zoë, Central City Library]

Karen Russell's second collection of short stories is certainly an uneven read, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. I enjoyed the stronger pieces enough to get over the let-down of what I thought were the weaker ones.

The collection seems oddly titled too; the title story is a delicately written, and (incredibly enough) fresh take on the vampire ouvre. Yet it's nowhere near as memorable as the utterly haunting Proving Up, which is still spooking me out weeks after having read it.

Some of the stories in this collection reminded me strongly of another short story collection I reviewed recently, Kij Johnson's At the Mouth of the River of Bees, in particular, the magical, mythical quality of Reeling for the empire and New veterans.

Russell got more than a few snorts out of me with the witty and cynical Dougbert Shackleton's rules for Antarctic tailgating, while other stories seemed unfinished or unresolved, especially Seagull army descends on strong beach: 1979, in which the complexity of the concept seemed limited by the form.

Overall though, Russell's sheer imaginative force and skillful writing make for a fulfilling read.

Russell also wrote St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Other Stories, and the novel it spawned, Swamplandia!

Title: Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Author: Karen Russell
ISBN: 9780307957238 (hardcover)

Published: 2013
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

 - Zoë, Central City Library

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