Monday, February 19, 2007

"St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves"

This is a book of short stories by Karen Russell. Now, with a title like that, I expected the stories to be a little bit odd. But when I read the first story, about two girls alone at the Swamplandia Gator Theme Park, I just didn't get into it. It was too strange and uncomfortable and what was going on, anyway? So I put the book down for a while. The next story, however, caught my interest. It's about two brothers searching for their sister, or the ghost of their sister, or the body of their sister. There's some wonderful details, like their toothless grandmother who subsists on banana-based soft foods, and is referred to as Granana.
All the stories include elements that are supernatural, mythical, or at least bizarre. Some of the stories incorporate these elements in a way that succeeded in drawing me into a different sort of world. My favorite was narrated by a boy whose family goes west in a wagon train - a familiar story, except that his father is a minotaur who pulls their wagon. All the stories are about children or teenagers, finding their way. The stories set up interesting situations and characters, but in some of the stories not much happens, and there is rarely a resolution.
I didn't love this book, but it was unusual and interesting. And memorable - I think I'll remember some of the stories for a long time.

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