"Every day, I am mystified and grateful that my books have found any readers whatsoever, given that they feature alligator-wrestlers, wolf-girls, and ghosts. I take that monstrous crew seriously, of course, and really labor to use elements of the fantastic to explore some of the terrors and fantasies that govern our lives, and that have shaped our history and our interactions with our families and our environments, but I do find that I blush when telling polite strangers my own book titles."
"I was thinking about this really kind of beautiful and naive faith people have that death is going to give them some kind of final answer, you know. Either there’s going to be, you know, whatever the answer is. Like: That’s it. The end. Or that there will be kind of a final reckoning. And I was just thinking about these poor guys who — it’s even more mystifying than their lives on this planet. And just the kind of arithmetic we’re doing all the time where we try to explain our present circumstances based on our past actions."
I loved Russell’s new collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The story here is about presidents reincarnated as horses in some kind of purgatory and is amazing as only Karen Russell can be. More of my thoughts at Everyday eBook and JennIRL gives it all the love at Tor.
"This is not exactly the fantastic made realistic or the realistic fantastic. It’s a story sure of itself in the frolic of its strangeness. Fiction is by definition unreal, and Russell takes this coldly awesome truth and enjoys fully the rebel freedom it confers. […] But Russell is no coy or mannered mistress of the freaky. Much of the pleasure in reading her comes from the wily freshness of her language and the breezy nastiness of her observations.” (via Joy Williams, ‘Vampires in the Lemon Grove,’ by Karen Russell - NYTimes.com)
I nabbed an ARC of this at the bookstore; I loved it. It has a surprising thread of horror (as in the genre) throughout, and seems more mature then her previous work. I think my favorite story in it is “Reeling for the Empire,” which provides the inspiration for the gorgeous illustration with this review.
Anonymous asked: Friend of mine is/used to be/trying to be an idealist. Young vet, unemployed, wants to be a therapist, counselor, doctor maybe. Loves working w/ teens, cars, dogs. Totally battered and disillusioned. Avid reader & needs more fiction in her life, particularly anything hopeful without being unrealistic or saccharine or involving lots of money or romance for a happy ending, though something lesbian/trans in the background would probably be really good for her. Help me cheer her up, PLEASE.
Chad Harbach’s Art of Fielding has got some sneaky gay stuff and is hopeful without being annoying about it, and really good. Eileen Myles’s Inferno, a memoirish poetic novel about her discovering herself as a poet in NYC with lots of lesbians. Justin Torre’s We the Animals is kind of devastating but I think hopeful at the end in its way, and is just amazing to read. Same with Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, which is just a wonderful book and hopeful, I think.
Aaron suggests Franzen’s Freedom, “all the characters are shitty and they all do a lot of dumb things and hurt each other a lot but in the end it ends up being kind of OK.”
"As difficult as it is to get a reader to suspend disbelief, it’s even harder to keep his or her disbelief lofted over the course of a story or novel as it progresses. In the same way that you can break a reader’s heart by playing fast and loose with the rules of your Oz, you can also fail a reader by getting sloppy on the Kansas details."
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