May Pick: Karen Russell – Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Our pick for May reading is the short story collection by acclaimed author Karen Russell: Vampires in the Lemon Grove. It was a standoff between Michael Ondaatje’s book and this one, and Absentee Jed’s vote broke the tie. Thanks for hosting Skyler. It was great to see 14 people turn out for our roadtrip bookclub in Denver.

Next Bookclub is Friday, June 5th in at Bryan’s house in Longmont.

From the New York Times review:

Start with a mustard seed of irrelevant fact. Rutherford Hayes’s wife, Lucy, was the first American president’s wife to be referred to as the first lady. Scribble this on a scrap of paper and present it to Karen Russell. Tell her she has to write a story about this old dead guy and reincarnate him as a horse. Give her a couple of pencils. Put her in a locked safe à la Houdini. Tie one arm behind her back. Give her the sniffles. Let her go after a modest interval and see what she comes up with: the hilarious, impossibly realized, even moving, story “The Barn at the End of Our Term.”

Or how about this? Instead of menses, drugged young girls in feudal Japan produce silk. We’d like 9,000 words, please. Blindfold Karen Russell. Make her compose wearing mittens, her only sustenance Red Bull and those little mandarin orange Cutie things. See what happens: the exquisite “Reeling for the Empire” — first­rate, elegant horror

Vampires, krill, a stolen rabbit renamed Saturday: Russell will make magic of them all. Give her a piece of glass wrapped in burlap and she’ll deliver “Proving Up,” set in Nebraska, in the desperate, ruthless days after the Homestead Act, reminiscent in its seamlessness and strangeness of Kafka’s “Country Doctor.”

It’s hard not to reflect on the origins of this wildly talented young writer’s ideas or puzzle over the serene assurance she brings to her unusual choices.

Read the rest of the article HERE

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