Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I greatly admire Karen Russell, a young writer whose work I find inventive and surprising. Her novel Swamplandia!, one of the Pulitzer Prize finalists for best fiction a few years ago, is easily one of the best novels I've read in the past 5 years. So I decided to tackle her latest short story collection, even though I struggle with the short story form; I often find short stories frustrating and overly abrupt in their endings. And that is sometimes the case with Russell's stories as well--I admit, I often want more of the characters or plot when she brings a story to a close. But it's a joy to read her gorgeous prose and fall, again, down into the strange and yet somehow, very truthful, worlds she creates in her fiction. My favorite story in this collection is the haunting "Proving Up"... what an unusual window on the dark side of pioneer life.