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Vampires in the Lemon Grove - two ancient vampires try to satiate their desires by eating lemons Reeling for the Empire - human silkworms The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, - maybe the seagulls are the only ones really paying attention Proving Up - starts as a struggling farm family story, ends in a Dougbert Shackleton's Rules of Antarctic Tailgating - Sometimes you're the whale, but you're probably usually the krill.


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It did have the only bit I marked, because it is about a librarian: "I think we needed that librarian to follow us around the hallways for every minute of every school day, reading us her story of our lives, her fine script of who we were. Jun 09, Janet rated it it was amazing. I'm not ordinarily a fan of the short story form but having read the first 2 stories in this collection, I am making an exception.

Karen Russell is wonderfully weird. The more I read, the more amazed I am. I've read 7 of the stories now. How a 30 year old woman can write this is beyond me I keep thinking I've just read my favorite story in the collection and then I read another one, and then I have new favorite. View all 3 comments. Mar 15, Roxane rated it it was ok.


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Just couldn't get into this one. The stories really struggled with narrative momentum. The title story and the second story are both very good. Then things View 2 comments. Feb 21, Zach rated it it was amazing. This collection sees Karen Russell shift the balance between concept and narrative.

While she has always handled both deftly, she made a name for herself by creating fantastical and fabulist scenarios. Those still remain, but the unreal elements of her stories seem subtler, serving to nudge the reader just outside of the possible, to let them see her deeply human narratives from a uniquely revealing angle. Despite being a writer of supreme empathy, Russell shows no hesitation in throwing her characters to the wolves. As much as she loves her characters, she loves the story more, and if something awful has to happen for the sake of the story then you can be sure it will.

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The prose of each story, even if the styles vary, is always controlled, like each letter was set in place with tweezers: "That sun ate lakes, rising out of dead volcanoes at dawn, triple the size of a harvest moon and skull-white, a grass-scorcher. She excels at creating new linguistic experiences, which require an investment of attention and intellect.

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The most important part of this collection and all of Russell's writing is, for me, the childlike glee with which she explores her subjects. Even in stories where "glee" seems like the absolute wrong word to describe them, it's hard not to feel her own wonder at the weirdness of her subjects. With all the elements that I might quantify, it's this verve, elan, whatever you want to call it that makes Vampires in the Lemon Grove transcend literary expectations. These are stories that you'll remember long after most others are forgotten.

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Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove bizzare and wildly inventive

Feb 06, Laurel Beth rated it really liked it Shelves: from-the-library , short-stories , hpl. Karen Russell is in heat check mode. After the Pulitzer committee decided in that no great novels made the cut for the award itself a pathetic heat check, the flailing of an organization disguised as stunting , Russell went ahead and planted her talent somewhere in Florida and here in this collection. Do you think the Pulitzer committee just thought, "Naw, that Swamplandia! I love a drive-thru pharmacy with a prescribing NP hanging out the window like it's a Benze Karen Russell is in heat check mode.

I love a drive-thru pharmacy with a prescribing NP hanging out the window like it's a Benzedrine Brew-Thru, but we cannot debase ourselves by acknowledging it even exists.

Publication: Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories

Basically, she just out-Saundered George Saunders. Here we find teenage girls dosed in the parallel timeline to spin silk from their fingers. There are mediocre presidents reincarnated as horses, ineffectual as ever. Always the painful demonstrative formative experience, "you're a man now" breaks in the lifecycle. Sorry George. I didn't obsess over your new book to the point where I took in in the shower cause I couldn't stop reading. Your move, acolytes of Atwood and Carver. I had to skip one story because Karen Russell has no problem lauding our greatest animals only to kill them off.

It's the expression of Sedaris' Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk , in which the greatest disconsolate scenarios of Raymond Carver et al. And while my heart aches for the drunk and despair of men, when it's an elephant or a mouse I can't even continue. No logic, no lies, just love. In the last story there appears a rabbit at the tail end, a best friend for a lonely boy. You know how that ends. It ends with me in the bed, Klonopinned to my dog, holding her teddy bear fur and whispering "I love you, I love you, I love you.

Mar 27, Aaron Arnold rated it liked it Shelves: read-in , fiction. I haven't read Swamplandia! I don't really have a problem with her writing technique per se - she can come up with good ways to describe things and there aren't any dumb sentences in here or anything - it's just that a lot of these stories don't end up being very interesting or compelling, with a few exceptions. All of these stories involve somewhat fantast I haven't read Swamplandia!

All of these stories involve somewhat fantastical elements, which is fine, but the less-interesting ones read like weird workshop exercises, like "now write a story where horses are Presidents". A long-married vampire couple has been living in Italy and eating lemons to ameliorate their bloodlust, but eventually the wife wants to move on from their idyll and the husband struggles to cope. I thought this story was pretty bland, like you finish reading and all you can remember is "yeah, that certainly was about vampires or old people or something".

Genuinely disturbing, and an excellent example of fantasy horror done well, especially in how emotionally deadened the protagonist was. A young teenager in a white trash family struggles to escape his life and get with a girl who's been sort of seeing his brother, crossed with a sci-fi version of Hitchcock's The Birds. I liked the emotional drama in the protagonist's life - my soft spot for stories about uncool high schoolers struggling with love and loserdom, I guess - but the "magical" part with the birds possibly messing with humanity by stealing their stuff felt like an afterthought, poorly developed and integrated with the main plot.

The youngest son of a family struggling to settle on the Great Plains is sent on horseback to show a real glass window to the government inspector, which is the final proof needed to receive their title to the land under the Homestead Act; however, the window the father acquired under shady circumstances is attractive to other figures who live along the son's path to the inspector. The son's dreams are maybe a bit too much foreshadowing, but I liked the atmosphere of the story, and he labors under a fairly convincing cloud of dread.

I also learned that the glass window requirement was a real thing, which seems really cruel to pioneer families. Rutherford B.

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Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell – review

Hayes, along with several other former Presidents, are reincarnated as horses, and try to figure out if they're in Heaven or some sort of bizarre purgatory while they attempt to escape. I confess that the point of this story escaped me; it reminded me a bit of David Foster Wallace's stupid short story about Lyndon B.

Johnson in that both stories are sort of mocking the retrospective gravitas that history awards to Presidents, but I liked Russell's more since it was so openly absurd. The ending was almost existentialist, like a Sartre of the stables. A veteran tailgater provides tips for cheering on Antarctic krill in the battle of life against their archrivals the whales. Short and goofy, it's hard to say much about this.

The idea of people cheering on different species in their Darwinian struggle is worth at least a small grin. A single Wisconsin masseuse gives massages to a returning Iraq War veteran with a strange tattoo inspired by a fatal IED incident, who responds strangely to her treatment. The masseuse is decently characterized, and I thought her struggle with the soldier's memories was unique and well-done. Maybe this story could have been expanded, but it ends well.


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The leader of a gang of high school delinquents torments a boy who just moved into town and who is somehow connected to an oddly compelling scarecrow. My main issue with this story is that the narrator is not believable at all - that type of bully character would never think of describing themselves as having "pontoon loads" of relatives, or some of the other metaphors he comes up with. Also his reaction to the mysterious happenings with the scarecrow aren't very plausible either.

Or the way the rest of his gang interacts with him. And his struggles with his last name are dumb. Come to think of it I didn't like anything about this one. Some though were a little creepy even for me. Loved the first story, which is very unusual for me because even the word vampire will set me running, but in this case it did not. Open minded a bit, gave it a chnace and was presently surprised.

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Must be the lemons. I would like to get a glimpse into this author's mind, must be such an interesting place. Wavered between 3 and 4, 3 because some of them were quite a bit out there and 4 because the writin 3. Wavered between 3 and 4, 3 because some of them were quite a bit out there and 4 because the writing is spectacular. Feb 14, Alena rated it really liked it Shelves: short-stories. Given my absolute love for Aimee Bender, it seems that Karen Russell should be a perfect read-alike.

She too throws reality out the window if it gets in the way of her storytelling.

Vampires in lemon grove

She invests her characters with strange powers and physical deformities that defy natural laws. She writes strong women and young people and skewers traditions and politics effortlessly. But, I have to be honest, I came to this collection with a bad taste in my mouth from Swamplandia!

Now I think I might be a convert. I know that I was entertained and turned inside out and forced to allow my brain to travel down new paths. What I at first took for a sort of political satire turned into an emotionally powerful story that left me reeling at the end. In fact, often times throughout the stories, I was arrested by the rich subtext beneath her bizarre tales.

The final tale could easily have suffered the route of a bad horror film. Instead she get to the core of lonely, frightened boys playing at acting tough. Fear was otherwise a lonely place.