Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Karen Russell

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

On Strong Beach, an awkward teen with a terrible haircut has a reversal of fortune when he finds artefacts from the future lining a seagulls' nest. By the Hox River in Nebraska, a window fuels both family pride and deadly revenge. In a godforsaken barn in what they suspect is Kentucky, Presidents Eisenhower, John Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes are bemused to find themselves reincarnated as horses. And in the collection's title story, Clyde and Magreb - he a traditional capes-and-coffins vampire, she the more progressive variety - settle in an Italian lemon grove in the hope that its ripe fruit will keep their thirst for blood at bay. Karen Russell is an audacious talent with a wicked sense of humour, and this hotly anticipated new collection confirms her place as a master of the short story form, and one of the most imaginative young writers at work today. 3.9 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 256
RRP
Date of Publication March 2013
ISBN 978-0701187880
Publisher Chatto & Windus
 

On Strong Beach, an awkward teen with a terrible haircut has a reversal of fortune when he finds artefacts from the future lining a seagulls' nest. By the Hox River in Nebraska, a window fuels both family pride and deadly revenge. In a godforsaken barn in what they suspect is Kentucky, Presidents Eisenhower, John Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes are bemused to find themselves reincarnated as horses. And in the collection's title story, Clyde and Magreb - he a traditional capes-and-coffins vampire, she the more progressive variety - settle in an Italian lemon grove in the hope that its ripe fruit will keep their thirst for blood at bay. Karen Russell is an audacious talent with a wicked sense of humour, and this hotly anticipated new collection confirms her place as a master of the short story form, and one of the most imaginative young writers at work today.

Reviews

The Observer

Jess Holland

A lonely vampire who believed in all the lore as a boy – sleeping in coffins, wearing velvet, drinking blood – meets a girl vampire, who teaches him to dull his thirst by sucking lemons. The title piece in this collection (by the author of the Pulitzer-shortlisted Swamplandia!) is a standout, but it's also typical Russell, with jokes that regularly ambush the reader, piquant details (blistered, violet waves; a girl who smells like hard water and glycerine) and an undercurrent of existential horror.

24/03/2013

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The Daily Telegraph

Duncan White

What distinguishes the fantastical stories of Vampires in the Lemon Grove from the merely kooky is what Russell has learnt from Franz Kafka, that is, present your reader with a bizarre scenario but treat it with the banality of everyday concerns.

04/04/2013

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The Times

Fiona Wilson

The motif that links the otherwise disparate narratives is transformation, monstrous and “skilfully misshapen”. This is disturbingly rendered in Reeling for the Empire, in which Japanese girls are enslaved in factories, where they become “part kaiko silkworm caterpillar, and part human female” … Russell takes the idea further in The New Veterans — the strongest of her tales, if overlong — in which Beverly, a masseuse, treats an war veteran named Derek Zeiger and finds she can alter the memory of his friend’s death by manipulating his tattoo ...

23/02/2013

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The Financial Times

Suzi Feay

Each tale shows Russell’s skill at putting across a voice or point of view. She variously captures the wistful detachment of an elderly vampire in Sorrento, Italy, the timidity of a middle-aged masseuse (“The New Veterans”) and the sneering, cocky defensiveness of a sports fan in a version of the near-future (“Dougbert Shackleton’s Rules for Antarctic Tailgating”) … There is one misfire in the collection – “Reeling for the Empire”, where the fancifulness feels forced.

29/03/2013

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The Los Angeles Times

Madeleine Blais

Russell is a quirky writer. Her work may be too outlandish for some, too reflexively alternative, but those very qualities translate into a dependable stream of admirable originality. What makes Russell so delicious for her fans is the constant trade between the fanciful and the routine, between stories you can live with and stories that are true. Less ambitious than "Swamplandia" and even more experimental in its overall tone, it is likely that this work is at heart a book between books, a gambit to keep her name afloat until the next major work appears.

10/02/2013

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The New York Times

Michiko Kakutani

In these tales Ms. Russell combines careful research (into, say, a legend, a historical episode or a tradecraft) with minutely imagined details and a wonderfully vital sleight of hand to create narratives that possess both the resonance of myth and the immediacy of something new.

04/02/2013

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The New York Times

Joy Williams

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. “The oldest sister had spent the past hour twitching in her sleep, dreaming of fatty and infirm elk,” Russell writes, in the title story of her first collection, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” … 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.

07/02/2013

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The Guardian

M John Harrison

This way of writing is so clever that nothing needs to be added to the set-up: three or four pages in, each story has already revealed its meanings, which are as subtle as the colour of Kitsune's silk. But plot becomes a problem when you write as intensely as Karen Russell. As long as they remain apparently fragile tissues of word, image and emotion, these stories have unbelievable strength: as soon as she begins to turn them into strong narratives, they weaken and lose something.

14/03/2013

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The Literary Review

Frank Brinkley

Russell has no shortage of imagination, but it would have been refreshing if she had occasionally departed from her default voice.

01/04/2013

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