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Category Archive for 'Karen Russell'

  “Rule Five-A: If your wife leaves you for a millionaire motel-chain-owning douchebag fan of Team Whale, make sure you get your beloved mock-bioluminescent Team Krill eyestalks out of the trunk of her Civic before she takes off” (141) In a second person narrative it can be difficult to convey any life of the narrator […]

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Proving Up

“And like a quagmire the terror won’t release me, because the man is speaking in the voice of my own father, and every sodbuster in the Hox River Settlement – a voice that can live for eons on dust and thimblefuls of water, that can be plowed under, hailed out, and go on whispering madly […]

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Titles, unless they’re Fall Out Boy songs from 2006-2009, are rarely so long or descriptive, so this one caught my eye.  Right from the outset, Russell gives us setting.  We are in 1979, in Strong Beach, and a seagull army has descended.  While we don’t yet know the significance of any of these pieces of […]

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Russell in “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979” hides the pieces of fantastic within it, while having the fantastical pieces and the world of Nal and his family very fleshed out, knowing very specific details about each character. I like how from the beginning, the mass amount seagulls surrounding Nal is noticed slightly, […]

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But to Nal’s dismay, the ladies of Athertown flocked to Samson in greater multitudes than before. Girls trailed him down the boardwalk, clucking stupidly about the new waxy sheen on his head. Samson was seventeen and had what Nal could only describe with a big laugh and the deep serenity of a grazing creature. Russell […]

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The gulls landed in Athertown on July 11, 1979. Clouds of them, in numbers unseen since the ornithologists began keeping records of such things. Scientists all over the country hypothesized about erratic weather patterns and redirected migratory routes. At first sullen Nal barely noticed them. (53) The shift in point of view from dramatic third […]

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Warping people’s futures into some new and terrible shapes, just by stealing these smallest linchpins from the present. The mystery behind the appearance of the seagulls in this story is very apparent, yet it is not the focal point. Russell continues to change the point of the story as it moves along. At first she […]

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First the silk worms stop eating. Then they spin their cocoons. Once inside, they molt several times. They grow wings and teeth. If the caterpillars are allowed to evolve, they change into moths. Then these moths bite through the silk and fly off, ruining it for the market. This quote is the turning point in […]

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I’ve spent the past few months convinced that we were still identifiable as girls, women – no beauty queens, certainly, shaggy and white and misshapen, but at least half human; it’s only now, watching the Agent’s reaction, that I realize what we’ve become in his absence. I see us as he must: white faces, with sunken noses […]

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“Vampires in the Lemon Grove”

Human marriages amuse me the brevity of the commitment and all the ceremony that surrounds it, the calla lilies, the veiled mother-in-laws like lilac spiders, the tears and earnest toasts. Till death do us part! Easy. These mortal couples need only keep each other in sight for fifty, sixty years. Often I wonder to what […]

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  Back then we were all preoccupied with visions of the apocalypse; Santa Francesca, the foundress of this very grove, gouged out her eyes while dictating premonitions of fire.  What a shame, I often think, that she foresaw only the end times, never hot dogs. (p. 4) Clyde’s story is full of nostalgia and remembrance.  […]

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