Monday, June 3, 2013

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Typically I am not one for a collection of short stories. Such books seem to avoid my eyes or maybe my interest turns me elsewhere. Simply put: it's a rare occurrence for me to pick up such a book hut I am so glad that I picked this one up. 

To say I devoured the book would be a slight understatement. I gobbled it up in record time considering that I was obnoxiously busy when I began the book. The Easter holiday (yes, I read it that long ago) crept up upon me and I went away on holiday to my Aunt's. Wedding dress shopping (not my own), playing with kids, a lot of eating, and general merry making was a priority while I was away and yet, somehow, I managed to dive into this book swiftly and with pleasure. 

I have to be honest though; I had never heard of Karen Russell. She was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize and has been featured in countless big-to-do publications and received many literary awards. I guess all of that flew right over my head. But I can see why she has received such accolades as soon as I began to read this book and believe me, I plan on reading more of her published material.

This book is certainly spooky in its own right. Not scary, not a horror story, but it gets your brain working and will leave a bit of a tickle on the back of your neck which is very close to hairs rising. I certainly came out of the book with favorite short stories and others that sort of didn't capture my attention but overall I truly enjoyed this from cover to cover. 

"Reeling for the Empire" was by far my favorite short story and gave me the biggest quiver. Young women, seeking to help their families or for other various reasons, agree to work in a silk factory. Little do they know that their new occupation will turn them into living silk worms. The very idea, and the story that followed, still lingers in my mind. 

"Vampires in the Lemon Grove" was another story I enjoyed as the featured vampires was described to be similar to an old Italian grandpa. The vampires sucking on lemons was a curious twist and I found I wanted to know more about the mythology behind these particular vampires. 

"The Barn at the End of Our Term" had me laughing and talking to coworkers about it. Presidents, from the distant past and more recent past -- all dead -- wake up alive and in the bodies of horses knowing very well that they are 1) presidents and 2) in horses bodies. You can only imagine (until you read it for yourself) the antics that go on.

"The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis" was something that left me thinking and slightly uncomfortable -- in the best of ways. Eric Mutis is a tormented child at his school and when his tormentors stumble upon a scarecrow that looks just like him it turns a little spooky. Bullying has been something of a big topic for the past few years and now is no different. This story, much like the others, could make for a good plot in a film.

The other short stories are all interesting as well and have their elements of spookiness and excitement. But I'll leave you to discover them. This author has proven, quite obviously by her list of awards, that she can write and she earned a fan in me through this collection. I'm excited for the opportunity to read more of her books in the future.

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