A dazzling debut, a blazingly original voice: the ten stories in St. Lucys Home for Girls Raised by Wolves introduce a radiant new talent.
In the collections 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 DynastyGrandpa Sawtooth, Chief Bigtree, and twelve-year-old Avaproprietors of Swamplandia!, the islands #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, dont 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 youre a kid its often hard to tell the innocuous secrets from the ones that will kill you if you keep them.
Russells 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 lifein an idiom that is as arrestingly lovely as it is surrealKaren Russell shows us who we are and how we live.
Ava Wrestles the Alligator
My sister and I are staying in Grandpa Sawtooths old house until our father,
Chief Bigtree, gets back from the Mainland. Its our first summer alone in the
swamp. You girls will be fine, the Chief slurred. Feed the gators, dont talk
to strangers. Lock the door at night. The Chief must have forgotten that its a
screen door at Grandpasthere is no key, no lock. The old house is a
rust-checkered yellow bungalow at the edge of the wild bird estuary. It has a
single, airless room; three crude, palmetto windows, with mosquito-blackened
sills; a tin roof that hums with the memory of rain. I love it here. Whenever
the wind gusts in off the river, the sky rains leaves and feathers. During
mating season, the bedroom window rattles with the ardor of birds.
Now the thunder makes the thin window glass ripple like wax paper. Summer rain is still the most comforting sound that I know. I like ...
An extraordinary, eccentric, imaginative collection of short stories on the general theme of adolescents and the trials of growing up.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (914 words).
How does Russel feel to be listed as
one of 25 Under 25 to Watch in New York
"I am just bursting with joy and gratitude, of the slack-jawed, awestruck variety. This book is a miracle to meits a miracle that it has an ISBN number and a cover, that it exists as a book at all when for so long it was just an ungainly word file on my computer. At this time last year, I would have been happy to place a story with The Journal of Spotted Dogs. To have found a home for the collection, its the great miracle of my life to date. My dream really did...
If you liked St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, try these:
A mythology for a modern age -- complete with dark prophecy, family dysfunction, mystical deceptions, and killer birds. Not to mention a lime.
A heartwarming and hugely appealing debut collection that explores the way our choices and relationships are shaped by the menace and beauty of the natural world.
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