Monday, May 4, 2015

I Thought We Were Done with Vampire Stories!

To begin with, I have only read the first story in Karen Russell’s latest collection.  The story puzzles me.  Like most short stories, the opening is quick, characters appear fully developed on page one, no need to watch for great development throughout the action arc.  For sure, I know that this is the type of story I would have enjoyed teaching – sharing first the exquisite language with just the right amount of ornamentation, and then moving on to discovering the meaning behind the words.

Don’t let the vampire theme in the title story fool you – this is not about emotionless, blood sucking uglies that travel by night searching for innocents to induct into their secret society.  Instead, this story is a kind of meditation on the comforts of sameness and the challenges of change.

Clyde and his wife, Magreb no longer suck blood; it is no longer effective for them so they have sought substitutions finally settling in a lemon grove in Sorrento.  There they live on the juice of fallen lemons along with others secreted for them by a young grove worker whom they suspect understands them.  Long ago, Magreb taught Clyde that book generally held beliefs about vampires is inaccurate and so the couple  lives openly in the sun, sleeping wherever they can, but never in a coffin.

However, Magreb is restless and hints that it is time to move on.  With that simple suggestion, Clyde finds his world turned upside down, something which has become difficult in his advanced age - hanging upside down that is!  The comfort of his past calls to him and he chooses to act upon what he believed to be true for many, many years.  OK...a stronger resolution would have been more satisfying, but I’ll wait to see if soft endings are a theme throughout this collection.

Short stories.  I have always enjoyed them and am looking forward to reading more of Russell’s work.

What am I reading next?  Time for another Hemingway novel, I guess - but there's an inviting ARC on my desk called The Book of Speculation.  Both will have to wait until I finish a few more short stories.

Thanks for stopping by. 
Spring arrived.  Enjoy.