The thing I love most about Karen Russell’s writing is that when you’re asked to define it as fiction or fantasy, it’s not as easy as you’d think. Take “Swamplandia!” for example: are there now, or have there ever been, families living in the Florida Everglades who run alligator theme parks, in which the mother and youngest daughter jump from diving boards into a pool of alligators and wrestle them for spectators’ amusement? I don’t think so. But then again, are there any laws of nature that prevent this from actually happening? Not really.
Russell’s “Vampires in the Lemon Grove: and other short stories,” adheres to this in-between state as well. Well, perhaps not the main story, which is about Vampires, but the rest of them do. I loved this work of short stories, but I must say I enjoyed her other collection, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” a tad more. That being said this book is absolutely worth reading.
However if you read this post and were scratching your head, asking: “Swamplandia? What’s that, pray tell?” I recommend you drop everything and read it immediately. Really, drop it. Don’t even finish pulling your pants up; run to the bookstore naked, and get ready to feel a lot of strong emotions, as well as a fuzzy remembrance of a time when dangerous things seemed not so dangerous, even though they really were.