Amanda Reads: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Hello, internet people! It’s been quite a reading week for me; I finished two books in one day and have all the feels about them. Consequently, I’m feeling a bit drained and don’t really want to start any new books. Anyway, the one I’d been working on for the longest is Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove, so I’ll start with a post about that.

This is only the third collection of short stories that I’ve ever read (someday I’ll stop being able to count, maybe), and I’m still largely trying to piece together how the whole collection fits. Maybe it doesn’t? Maybe that’s the point? The stories in this collection are wide and varied, with topics ranging from largely realistic stories with a dash of magical realism to completely out there stories about horses that contain the souls of reincarnated former U.S. Presidents (yes, you read that correctly).

Some of the stories I liked quite well, such as one particular story that was just beautiful and poignant, about an aging massage therapist and a war veteran. Others I never quite unpacked, and others still I didn’t know whether I was supposed to (or even could) take them seriously. Overall, the experience was mostly a confusing one. While I appreciated some of the prose a great deal, and liked some of the stories, I can’t say this was my favorite piece of literature to spend time with–it took me forever to read because it felt more like a chore, to me, than something enjoyable. This is probably largely because magical realism and I are still learning to play nice; I like the light touches, but anything too zany and I get myself all of out whack trying to make sense of it.

So if you’re into the bizarre, give this book a go. If you’d rather not learn what happens when presidents are reincarnated as horses or sea gulls steal potential futures, steer clear and find yourself something a bit more easy to understand.

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