Monday, June 17, 2013
Vampires In The Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Vampires In The Lemon Grove is a collection of eight stories by Karen Russell, whose novel Swamplandia was a major literary event, nominated for the Orange Prize and selected as a New York Times Best Book of the year as well as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
The book's title is also the title of the first story in the volume, a tale of two vampires who have loved each other for decades and who now reside in a lemon grove as their love dissolves. In "The New Veterans", a massage therapist has a soldier back from the Iraqi War as her client, and his experiences there seem to transfer to her through her contact with his skin. In "The Graveless Doll Of Eric Mutis" a group of young teen boys discover a scarecrow created to look like the boy they spent a year bullying, and they relieve the experience and wonder if retribution is about to find them. "Reeling For The Empire" tells the story of a group of young women torn from their homes and forced to spend their lives creating silken thread the empire can sell.
The other stories in the collection share the same characteristics as those above. They all show the creative imagination that Karen Russell is known for. Readers either love or dislike her writing intensely; there is no middle ground. The world she creates is one just below the surface where things are not as they appear, and fantastical images and events are commonplace. The reader is drawn into her imagined worlds and emerges from them knowing that what they have experienced is different from what is experienced from reading most literature. An excellent anthology from one of the best of the young American writers, 'Vampires In The Lemon Grove' will prove an unforgettable experience.