Kim: Karen Russell is somewhat of a literary celebrity in the fact that she was one of the youngest writers to be chosen for the New Yorker’s Best 20 under 40. Her most recent novel, Swamplandia! is an extension of the first story we see in her book of short stories, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, about a family that makes their living wrestling alligators in a Florida Everglade theme park. If the premise of that story is any indication, Russell is clearly an authority on the strange and weird.
One of the things I liked best about Russell was the sheer inventiveness with which she writes. The setting of her stories are often other-wordly, or towing the line, and she does an excellent job of harnessing interest while keeping within her literary merits. My three favorite stories were: Z.Z.’s Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers, The Star-Gazer’s Log of Summer-Time Crime, and St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Within these, is some of my favorite writing: they’re stories I like to read, the sort that ooze with talent, and the kind I wish I could write myself. There were others, equally as well written, that I struggled through, or simply lost interest in, and there were a handful I skipped almost entirely. I think any reader who appreciates stories that are constructed outside of the standard literary box would love this book. It certainly has me curious and eager to pick up the already popular, Swamplandia!
Kelly: Like Kim, I also enjoyed this short story collection. I loved the quirky characters, sometimes otherworldly or magical situations, and literary quality. Amongst my favorite stories are “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” and “Haunting Olivia.”
I’m definitely curious about Swamplandia!
Title: St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves
Author: Karen Russell
Read: February 2011
Source: Powell’s Bookstore / Annie Bloom’s Books