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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Stories Audible – Unabridged

3.8 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Karen Russell, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Knopf, 2006)

I was reading along in Karen Russell's debut volume of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, and I was pretty sure it was going to get an excellent review. I figured it would flirt with inclusion in my Best Reads of 2007 list. Then I read "Out to Sea." Not only is this book a shoo-in for the Best List-- a pretty amazing feat for a book I read in the first two weeks of the year-- but I'm reasonably confident in saying it's got a shot at the overall title, and I can say with great confidence that Karen Russell made a devoted lifelong fan with that story, a masterpiece of emotional wordplay and controlled eroticism. (The story that follows it, "Accident Brief, #00/422," takes the exact opposite tack to the same basic destination, giving us a laugh-out-loud funny narrator who injects moments of such hopeless despair that the reader will find himself stopping laughing, instantly and uncomfortably, on an alarmingly regular basis.) Ben Marcus, in one of the blurbs on the back cover, says "This book is a miracle.", and I am inclined to agree with him.

It would be easy, if a touch simplistic, to pigeonhole Russell's stories in the magical realism genre. All the hallmarks are there-- normal (well, kind of) people, real (or at least plausible) places, supernatural (or are they, really?) events. So, yeah. Lots of qualifiers there. Borges/Marquez/Murakami/Hoffman/et al. would recognize Russell on sight, but less as a daughter than as a second cousin once removed. The same could be said of any genre where one might fit Russell's work; it seems to be a new beast all its own.

Genre, however, is not as important as skill, and Russell is an immensely skilled writer.
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Format: Paperback
For the most part, the stories in this collection read like incomplete fragments of better, richer tales. It felt like Russell set up interesting situations and introduced intriguing characters only to end the story before doing anything with them. The endings felt as if pages of the manuscript had simply been lost, instead of the openness being used to achieve an effect. Yes, stories do not need a neat ending; Katherine Mansfield's works prove that beautifully. However, that's very different to simply truncating the narrative arbitrarily and hoping it will be suitably postmodern, which seemed to be the case here.

The one exception is the title story, which is quite stunning and worth reading by itself. It isn't worth the price of the book, though, so get the collection from your local library and skip to the end.
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By A Customer on September 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
These are ten delightful fables that star young heroes and heroines living in an offbeat magical Florida Everglades. The irony behind the uplifting tales is that they involve growing up to face reality yet still retain the magical environs of childhood while on the verge of losing their youthful enthusiasm forever. Each contribution is haunting (not just Olivia's tale) and satirical as Karen Russell brings out the inspirational "I won't Grow Up" from Peter Pan while having to pretend to have grown up; albeit what are girls who just want to have fun raised by wolves but now left with nuns to do except to fake assimilation. Whether one searches for a dead sister using enchanted goggles or has a Minatare as a dad, ST. LUCY'S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES: AND OTHER STORIES is a fun compilation that cleverly lampoons adult solutions to children's problems by sending them to their room in this case a camp for troubled sleepers.

Harriet Klausner
16 Comments 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Many of the stories in this book are interesting -- at first. Then they just end abruptly -- no payoff, no closure. There is something to be said for an open ending -- but when an entire collection of short stories end that way, it is frustrating for the reader. It also leads one to believe that the author was not pushing herself hard enough (This is not a swipe at the author, just a reader's observation). I finally became bored with the format and disappointed with the stories.
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Format: Paperback
Russell is a talented writer, whose stories are creative, imaginitive,and often times fun. However, as many reviewers have mentioned, frequently - all too frequently - there is no resolution, they simply end, as if to say,"well, that's it - time for another story."

The setting of many of her tales - the woods of south Florida and the south in general - were vivid, and were an element that I particularly liked. I enjoyed her characters and the unpredictable and slighly supernatural events they found themselves in. But I could never get used to the abrupt ending of her stories. I really wanted to like this book, but I can only give it 3 stars.
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Format: Hardcover
Russell has massive amounts of talent, evidenced by these magical tale spun out of the simplest beginnings: an underwater search for a dead sister using ghost-spying goggles, an island attraction of empty giant conch shells that play eerie music when the wind is up, a pack of were-girls given by their parents to nuns for a chance at a better life. All ten short stories weave elements of the real and the bizarre as if it were perfectly normal, and in this brilliant mirror the absurdities of real life are given new perspective. I was completely captivated and made to rethink what I take for granted as normal versus what I think of as alien. Sheer genius.
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