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Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 12, 2013
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"Vampires in the Lemon Grove" is perhaps the least unusual of these stories, simply because the vampire is so overexposed a figure that even the most refreshing take on it feels a little old hat. What we have here is a reformed vampire named Clyde (ha?) who, having discovered with the help of his wife, also a vampire, that drinking blood doesn't help and that many of the old superstitions are just that, has taken to lemon juice as a humane substitute. But when Clyde's wife suggests it may be time for a change, old habits threaten to reassert themselves. Lacking the emotional intensity of some of the later stories, this is nonetheless a clever meditation on the appeal of bad behavior and the precariousness of redemption.Read more ›
There's a winged motif running through most of these stories if, at times, only on the periphery...bats, seagulls, moths even angels. These multiple references to flying tie in with the fanciful nature of Russell's writing. There's also sadness. She confronts loss, unrequited love, a warrior's battle scars, and unknown unknowable evil, evil that's made worse for being undefined, etc. Though all these stories have merit I found them uneven. `Proving Up' was positively creepy as was `The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis' and `Reeling for the Empire' read like an allegory. All of them were beyond normal happenings but there was something fundamentally true and human in them. The supernatural aspects in Russell's writing reminded of Shirley Jackson. Russell's tone often had William Trevor's emotional intensity where evil seems to hover just outside reality. The best stories in this collection were immensely satisfying which made those that were less so seem more starkly lacking though probably if I'd encountered them elsewhere I wouldn't have felt this so strongly. This book is an adventure.
But what about the stories, plot-wise, you ask? Well, it's like this. Some are more satisfying than others. They're meaty stories, for one. Most of them are in the neighborhood of 30 pages, so when they're not working they become a slog. When that happens, you feel Russell could use a touch of Maxwell Perkins' scissors. But that's a quibble, over all, because mostly you don't notice the pages flipping by. Description and character are Russell's forte. And weirdness. Together they keep things moving.
"Vampires in the Lemon Grove" has some fun with the sitting-duck genre of vampire lit -- an earth well scorched by the TWILIGHT series. This vampire couple is on the wagon. No. More. Blood. Strictly sinking their teeth into lemons. And about this sun problem? Bah. These vampires wear sunglasses. Florida is safe no more. The collection gets stranger still with "Reeling for the Empire," wherein young ladies are converted into the sorority sister equivalent of silk worms in the province of Dystopia, Japan (or maybe it's one island over). Odd isn't the word for it.. "Proving Up" is a bit reminiscent of Stewart O'Nan's A PRAYER FOR THE DYING. Old West gothic. But you have to admit, it shows Russell's versatility. Even if she does use a little kid to do it (flag on the play).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Clear imagery; I wish I knew how to describe it. Ethereal? I read this awhile ago, yet the book is clear in my mind still.Published 7 days ago by MagnificentPony
Fun to read. Inventive. Creative and a little bit spooky.
Worth the quick read. The last two were my least favorites. But still a solid collection.
most of Mrs. Russell's endings leave me scratching my head but that might just be me. The storys are engaging and the writing style ranks up there with the mastersPublished 1 month ago by jer
Karen Russell got a raw deal when Swamplandia, her first novel, wasn't chosen for a Pulitzer (the book was a finalist, but no prize was awarded that year). Read morePublished 1 month ago by Andrew J. Polhamus
This book was extremely boring. You just have to ask why. I quit 3 stories in. I really did not enjoy this,Published 1 month ago by Stacey R. Willman
Each story is so different from the other and a little twisted or even spooky. It almost felt like each one was its own book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jun
I usually love horror genre, but Ms. Russell is a little too freaky for me. Psychologically disturbing.Published 4 months ago by D.C. Julie
I love Karen Russell's writing. She makes me feel like I'm part of the weather in her stories.Published 4 months ago by Mememe