Karen Russell Continues to Deliver Outstanding Stories
By Karen Russell
Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95, 243 pages
Vampires in the Lemon Grove is Karen Russell’s second collection of short stories, coming on the tail of her Pulitzer Prize nominated Swamplandia!. Collected in just under 250 pages are eight magical stories involving characters any reader would love to get to know.
In the title story, Vampires in the Lemon Grove two vampires have traveled the world attempting to stay under the radar of humanity. The story finds them in Italy, living inside a lemon grove, drinking the juice to satiate their thirst for blood. There is also the tale of a young man who must carry the only glass window in his community from house to house so each family can finally make just claim to their land.
The best story in the collection though, in this reviewer’s opinion, is Reeling for the Empire. Young women are sold from their families to reel silk. Instead, the girls are slowly turned into giant silkworms, and forced to produce their own silk. When they get fed up, a revolution is planned, and they young women take their lives back by force.
All of the stories collected in Vampires in the Lemon Grove are exceptional. Many writers attempt magical realism, but few succeed the way Karen Russell can. Her writing is tight, her characters instantly lovable, and, most importantly, her stories are believable.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser