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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Storiesby Karen Russell
"Karen Russell's debut collection of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, reads like the old stories of the future might: stylistically contemporary, but eerily timeless; stories so haunting, magical, and lyrical they will be read over and over again, for the pure joy of the tale....Russell is a new old-fashioned storyteller, and luckily, at only twenty-four years old, we can look forward to many, many years of her work." Alexis Smith, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
A dazzling debut, a blazingly original voice: the ten stories in St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves introduce a radiant new talent.
In the collection's title story, a pack of girls raised by wolves are painstakingly reeducated by nuns. In "Haunting Olivia," two young boys make midnight trips to a boat graveyard in search of their dead sister, who set sail in the exoskeleton of a giant crab. In "Z.Z.'s Sleepaway Camp for Disordered Dreamers," a boy whose dreams foretell implacable tragedies is sent to a summer camp for troubled sleepers (Cabin 1, Narcoleptics; Cabin 2, Sleep Apneics; Cabin 3, Somnambulists ...). And "Ava Wrestles the Alligator" introduces the remarkable Bigtree Wrestling Dynasty — Grandpa Sawtooth, Chief Bigtree, and twelve-year-old Ava — proprietors of Swamplandia!, the island's #1 Gator Theme Park and Café. Ava is still mourning her mother when her father disappears, his final words to her the swamp maxim "Feed the gators, don't talk to strangers." Left to look after seventy incubating alligators and an older sister who may or may not be having sex with a succubus, Ava meets the Bird Man, and learns that when you're a kid it's often hard to tell the innocuous secrets from the ones that will kill you if you keep them.
Russell's stories are beautifully written and exuberantly imagined, but it is the emotional precision behind their wondrous surfaces that makes them unforgettable. Magically, from the spiritual wilderness and ghostly swamps of the Florida Everglades, against a backdrop of ancient lizards and disconcertingly lush plant life — in an idiom that is as arrestingly lovely as it is surreal — Karen Russell shows us who we are and how we live.
"A series of upbeat, sentimental fables, the 10 stories of Russell's debut are set in an enchanted version of North America and narrated by articulate, emotionally precocious children from dysfunctional households. Each merges the satirical spirit of George Saunders with the sophisticated whimsy of recent animated Hollywood film. In 'Ava Wrestles the Alligator,' a motherless girl, 'staying in Grandpa Sawtooth's old house until our father, Chief Bigtree, gets back from the Mainland,' struggles to understand her big sister's blooming sexuality, which seems to grow scaly and incarnate. Timothy Sparrow and Waldo Swallow Heartland, the two brothers of 'Haunting Olivia,' search for their sister's ghost near Gannon's Boat Graveyard using a pair of magic swimming goggles. In the title story, the human daughters of werewolves are socialized into polite society. Russell has powers of description and mimicry reminiscent of Jonathan Safron Foer ('My father, the Minotaur, is more obdurate than any man,' begins 'Children's Reminiscences of the Westward Migration'), and her macabre fantasies structurally evoke great Southern writers like Flannery O'Connor. If, at 24, Russell hasn't quite found a theme beyond growing up is hard to do (especially if you're a wolf girl), her assorted siblings are rendered with winning flair as they gambol, perilously and charmingly, toward adulthood. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Weird, wonderful....These stories are part Flannery O'Connor, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and entirely her own. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"Most writers her age haven't yet matched Russell's chief achievement: honing a voice so singular and assured that you'd willingly follow it into dark, lawless territory. Which, as it happens, is exactly where it leads us." Time Out New York
"In her most successful stories, the fablelike settings Russell invents throw the very real absurdity of childhood into relief....In other stories, Russell seems carried away by her own inventiveness, and quirkiness stands in for emotional weight." Chicago Tribune
"Karen Russell writes with great flair and fearlessness. The finest of the stories of shape-shifting and transmutation...are so extreme and convincing, you fear for what Russell dreams." Denver Post
"Unforgettable, gorgeously imaginative tales....25-year-old wunderkind Karen Russell — whose house-afire prose has already lit up the pages of Granta and The New Yorker — proves herself a mythologist of the darkest and most disturbing sort." Elle
"This book is a miracle. Karen Russell is a literary mystic, channeling spectral tales that surge with feeling. A devastatingly beautiful debut by a powerful new writer." Ben Marcus
"Hallelujah! Karen Russell's work sweeps the ground from beneath your feet and replaces it with something new and wondrous, part Florida swampland, part holy water. A confident, auspicious, unforgettable debut." Gary Shteyngart, author of Abusrdistan
"Endlessly inventive, over-the-top, over-the-edge stories, all delivered in the most confident, exquisitely rambunctious manner. Fabulous fun." Joy Williams
These ten extraordinary stories introduce a new talent who opens a world to readers--the surreal marshes of the Florida Everglades where outlandish predicaments magically reveal the truth about one's life.
About the Author
Karen Russell, a native of Miami, has been featured in both The New Yorker's debut fiction issue and New York magazine's list of twenty-five people to watch under the age of twenty-six. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program and is the 2005 recipient of the Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation Award; her fiction has recently appeared in Conjunctions, Granta, Zoetrope, Oxford American, and The New Yorker. Twenty-five years old, she lives in New York City.
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