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Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Stories

Russell, Karen

(Book - 2013)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Print
Six short stories with subjects ranging from a dejected teenager who discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull's nest to two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove who try helplessly to slake their thirst for blood.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 0307961087
9780307961082
0307947475
9780307947475
0307957233
9780307957238
Characteristics: 243 p. ;,23 cm

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Sep 29, 2013
  • anthonybencivengo rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Karen Russell is really a writer to watch. The worlds she imagines are fantastical and unique while still being very recognizable. Her characters are strange without losing their relateability. And she expertly blends humor, pathos and even horror to create stories that will leave you deeply moved, tensely spellbound and maybe even still chuckling long after the last page is turned.

May 27, 2013
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I am going to admit something you mustn’t tell a soul. I was a *Twilight* addict. And an Anne Rice addict. To be honest, the problem extends to any other night-bumping creature of mystery ever to grace print. As a lit major-turned-librarian, this was always a source of embarrassment to me. Why couldn’t I love something more literary? Why didn’t *War and Peace* keep me up all night like Edward and Bella? Woe and shame, fellow readers. Woe and shame.

As a result, I tend to feel personally vindicated whenever a truly literary book comes out that features the fanged, the undead, the bizarre, or the monstrous. Enter Karen Russell’s *Vampires in the Lemon Grove.*

This collection of short stories opens with the hauntingly eerie tale which gives the collection its name, a love story of two vampires who learn to survive on juice from the exquisite lemons produced in a particular artisanal Italian grove. Far from being a romantic adventure tale of sparkly vampires who learn to overcome their monstrous natures and live among people, these vampires struggle greatly with their terrible urges. Most unsettlingly, their most terrifying urges seem to come from the human parts of themselves.

The confusion between the human and the monstrous continues. As the book progresses, the tales grow darker; by the end of the book the supernatural elements only serve to highlight the weirdness and unspeakable horrors lurking in the human condition. It reminds one that monster’s etymological root comes from a Latin word meaning “to show.” While monsters are often called to service in fiction to illuminate elements of human nature considered unspeakable in polite company, seldom has it been done so elegantly, and so chillingly. Russell’s language is sonorously wrought and full of wry humour – worth reading aloud to someone at bedtime, if you happen to have a connoisseur of the demented willing to listen. *Vampires in the Lemon Grove* is recommended reading to fans of the darker elements of David Sedaris’ work, or to anyone else craving a more literary monster.

Do you like creatively weird, imaginatively surreal stories that mix psychological insight with dry humour and are populated by daringly inventive characters (centuries-old vampires who suffer all-too-human woes, a former U.S. president reincarnated as a horse, a soldier whose tattoos...well, we won't ruin it for you)? Then you'll be right at home with award-winning author Karen Russell's latest short story collection, which mixes whimsy and horror in a unique and engaging manner. Fans of George Saunders will want to give Russell a try.

Fiction A to Z newsletter March 2013.

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May 27, 2013
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I am going to admit something you mustn’t tell a soul. I was a *Twilight* addict. And an Anne Rice addict. To be honest, the problem extends to any other night-bumping creature of mystery ever to grace print. As a lit major-turned-librarian, this was always a source of embarrassment to me. Why couldn’t I love something more literary? Why didn’t *War and Peace* keep me up all night like Edward and Bella? Woe and shame, fellow readers. Woe and shame. As a result, I tend to feel personally vindicated whenever a truly literary book comes out that features the fanged, the undead, the bizarre, or the monstrous. Enter Karen Russell’s *Vampires in the Lemon Grove.* This collection of short stories opens with the hauntingly eerie tale which gives the collection its name, a love story of two vampires who learn to survive on juice from the exquisite lemons produced in a particular artisanal Italian grove. Far from being a romantic adventure tale of sparkly vampires who learn to overcome their monstrous natures and live among people, these vampires struggle greatly with their terrible urges. Most unsettlingly, their most terrifying urges seem to come from the human parts of themselves. The confusion between the human and the monstrous continues. As the book progresses, the tales grow darker; by the end of the book the supernatural elements only serve to highlight the weirdness and unspeakable horrors lurking in the human condition. It reminds one that monster’s etymological root comes from a Latin word meaning “to show.” While monsters are often called to service in fiction to illuminate elements of human nature considered unspeakable in polite company, seldom has it been done so elegantly, and so chillingly. Russell’s language is sonorously wrought and full of wry humour – worth reading aloud to someone at bedtime, if you happen to have a connoisseur of the demented willing to listen. *Vampires in the Lemon Grove* is recommended reading to fans of the darker elements of David Sedaris’ work, or to anyone else craving a more literary monster.

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