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Vampires in the Lemon Grove

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  10,442 ratings  ·  1,689 reviews
From the author of the New York Times best seller Swamplandia! — a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize — a magical new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell’s gifts at their inimitable best.

A dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull’s nest. A community of girls held captive in a si
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Hardcover, 243 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
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LeeAnn Heringer
Over hyped, over rated, did not live up to my expectations.

Every one of the 8 very short stories in this collection has a wonderful premise -- vampires who thirst for something other than blood, team krill at the ice floe of Antarctica, women trapped in a Japanese factory, flocks of seagulls stealing the parts of our future we most need, dead presidents as stabled horses, etc. And the language itself is poetic and beautiful and sometimes says the most startling things, but...

The author can't tel
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karen

this collection only has eight stories in it compared to the ten in her last collection, so on one hand, i feel cross because i always want more from her, but on the other hand, the stories i liked, i liked a lot. but i'm greedy, and sometimes 8 is not enough.

but they are good, and i liked each story more than the one preceding it. in fact, the only one i wasn't crazy about was the second story,reeling for the empire, which felt like the longest story, but might not have been.

greg snatched this
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Gerry O'Malley
Mar 13, 2013 Gerry O'Malley rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of short story fiction and students of creative writing
If I had to summarize this collection of short stories in a word it would be "frustrating". Karen Russell is clearly a very gifted writer and several of these short stories approach masterful, but here is the problem - I don't think she knows how to finish a story. Each one of these little gems is unique and unlike any other story in the book - indeed, the style of the story varies wildly and wonderfully from story to story. Each story begins as a wonderfully weird little idea gem and Russell wr ...more
Maciek
Karen Russell seems to have jumped out of nowhere onto the mainstream literary scene with the publication of her first collection of stories St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves in 2006, at the age of 25. Her stories were published in Oxford American, The New Yorker and The Best American Short Stories. Her 2011 novel Swamplandia! was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. This is her latest collection of short fiction, which also served as my introduction to her work.

Collections of sho
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I had been looking forward to this book coming out, because I loved Karen Russell's first book of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. These stories did not disappoint! I was curious to see if there would be more set in Florida, but these span from Italy to New Jersey to the plains to Antarctica. And just as I would have expected, the stories are at times startling, amusing, and sad. I will just say a few words about each, but this is a must-read.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove
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Madeline
God damn it, Karen Russell.

She's just too good at this, guys, and it's driving me crazy. No one should be able to do what Karen Russell does - her particular brand of magical realism, where the supernatural and suburban America blend seamlessly, is like nothing I've ever encountered before. It just isn't fair that all that talent got concentrated in one person.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove is Russell's second collection of short stories - in my review of her first book, St. Lucy's Home for Girls
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Zach
This collection sees Karen Russell shift the balance between concept and narrative. While she has always handled both deftly, she made a name for herself by creating fantastical and fabulist scenarios. Those still remain, but the unreal elements of her stories seem subtler, serving to nudge the reader just outside of the possible, to let them see her deeply human narratives from a uniquely revealing angle. That’s because Russell is all about what's human, even if the human is sometimes a scarecr ...more
Laurel Beth
Karen Russell is in heat check mode.

After the Pulitzer committee decided in 2011 that no great novels made the cut for the award (itself a pathetic heat check, the flailing of an organization disguised as stunting), Russell went ahead and planted her talent somewhere in Florida and here in this collection.

Do you think the Pulitzer committee just thought, "Naw, that Swamplandia! is set in America's wang. I love a drive-thru pharmacy with a prescribing NP hanging out the window like it's a Benze
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Janet
I'm not ordinarily a fan of the short story form but having read the first 2 stories in this collection, I am making an exception. Karen Russell is wonderfully weird.
The more I read, the more amazed I am. I've read 7 of the stories now. How a 30 year old woman can write this is beyond me....she must be an old soul, a brilliant old soul. I keep thinking I've just read my favorite story in the collection and then I read another one, and then I have new favorite.
Cynthia
Russell Proves Up

“The Lemon Grove” is an inventive group of short stories. There are some real gems in this collection. It is one of those books that defy genre categorization. Russell’s style is very literary though you certainly don’t have your feet planted in the everyday world. There are elements of fantasy and science fiction and horror. Also, she has a knack for putting sentences and thoughts together in an individual way. Here are a few examples: “{She} read books and moved through the wo
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Aaron Arnold
I haven't read Swamplandia!, her widely acclaimed novel, but I only liked a few of these short stories so I might not search it out, even if it was a Pulitzer finalist. I don't really have a problem with her writing technique per se - she can come up with good ways to describe things and there aren't any dumb sentences in here or anything - it's just that a lot of these stories don't end up being very interesting or compelling, with a few exceptions. All of these stories involve somewhat fantast ...more
J.
All of the stories are told with the same pleasantly quirky and laid-back tone, yet it was only the titular tale that I found quite interesting. It took me a while to get through this book mostly because I would read a chapter in between other things, and frankly, some of them were pretty dull. It's not a bad collection of short stories by any means, just one that didn't fully capture my attention.
Liam O'brien
Feb 27, 2013 Liam O'brien rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bookish women and men alike, and my parents
Karen Russell: still best taken in short doses. If you read Swamplandia! amidst the tide of hype, whether it's from the Pulitzer and 20-under-40 and just generally "this is a young skilled writer", and thought "this is good but I can only take so many awe-inspiring prose runs and incredible similes, plus the ending was dogshit", like I did, then this is the book for you. Russell kills it, truly. She's got the relentless line-by-line dazzle of an MFA student who actually is worth the tuition but ...more
Alena
Given my absolute love for Aimee Bender, it seems that Karen Russell should be a perfect read-alike. She too throws reality out the window if it gets in the way of her storytelling. She invests her characters with strange powers and physical deformities that defy natural laws. She writes strong women and young people and skewers traditions and politics effortlessly.

But, I have to be honest, I came to this collection with a bad taste in my mouth from Swamplandia!, which was decidedly underwhelmi
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Kurt
This brief collection of imaginative short stories packs some serious emotional punches. Each story has some kind of a supernatural element, but like the best imaginative fiction, the fantasy elements really serve to enhance the universal human emotions that really form the backbones to each tale. For example, the title story is superficially about a pair of vampires learning that they can slake their thirsts on lemons from a particular grove in an Italian monastery, but it's much more about the ...more
Jill

Anyone who questions whether Karen Russell deserves all the accolades she is getting need only read Vampires in the Lemon Grove – eight imaginative and devastating stories that often took my breath away.

Of the eight, three stand out: the eponymous title story which features a married vampire couple who eschew all the old myths about what vampires SHOULD be like and satiate their thirst at a lemonade stand in Italy. “If you have been thirsty for a long time, if you have been suffering, then the a
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Robert Beveridge
Jan 30, 2013 Robert Beveridge rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the world.
Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Knopf, 2013)

Full disclosure: this book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.

I have a confession to make. I've been known to tear up at the odd film now and again, and certain songs can get me sniffling. Okay, both of those things are understatements. And even TV shows can do it. You know the episode of The Vicar of Dibley where [SPOILER ALERT] Hugo and Alice get hitched, so David is the guy ending up sitting there listening to Geraldine's
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Vanessa
Very high 3, rounding to 4.

At times refreshing, at times surprising... but always unpredictable. Never have I read a short story collection by a single author with such diversity in genre, tone and subject matter. Supernatural, humorous, sci-fi, western, horror, historical... it's all in here. I didn't love every story, but as I read along, I knew the next story was going to be the polar opposite of what I just finished.

For better or for worse, enjoy the ride. You're bound to stumble across a f
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Tara
Jul 04, 2013 Tara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Swamplandia!
What I really admire about Russell is her originality and lack of interest in writing for anyone other than herself. These stories lack any of the typical plots we often find, and many break new ground. The stories that most stayed with me (and I'd give a 5 to), as with Swamplandia!, take you to a landscape you are unfamiliar with: the dust bowl in the Midwest, the lemon groves of Italy, the landscape of Afghanistan through the tattoo on a soldier's back. I love these kinds of settings and she i ...more
Diane S.
3.5 Truly imaginative and so very well written. Some though were a little creepy even for me. Loved the first story, which is very unusual for me because even the word vampire will set me running, but in this case it did not. Open minded a bit, gave it a chnace and was presently surprised. Must be the lemons. I would like to get a glimpse into this author's mind, must be such an interesting place. Wavered between 3 and 4, 3 because some of them were quite a bit out there and 4 because the writin ...more
Roxane
Just couldn't get into this one. The stories really struggled with narrative momentum. The title story and the second story are both very good. Then things... wane.
Liz (The Bookish Liz)
Combined Rating of all the stories: 2.4 (rounded down for Goodreads system)

I have a hard time reviewing short story collections for one reason: they always tend to be uneven for me. Why I say that is that there are normally two to three good stories, and the rest are just filler. It reminds me of a talk I had with my dad about albums, and how some artists have one to three good songs, and the rest are filler tracks. Karen Russell's second collection and third work is strangely uneven in what it
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Meran
Overall, this book of short stories was a pleasure to read. Most were refreshing, many made me chuckle!

Writing short stories is difficult; one must spin an entire believable tale with less words than most authors use. These stories fit many genres; science fiction, horror, mystery, even one is transdimensional.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove- This story is about hunger- the need to find a place where one can dwell peacefully and the personal changes that might be required for that peace. Both vampir
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Newengland
Breadth. This 8-pack of short stories has it in spades. We have send-ups of vampire stories, Gothic Old West stories, contemporary stories, horror stories, humorous stories -- everything but haiku, practically. And, if your thing is "writers' writers," you've come to the right lemon grove. Karen Russell's best friends are words. She plays around with language, with sentences, with unexpected words, and she exults in it. Sometimes you just pause and say, "Nice."

But what about the stories, plot-wi
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Lit Folio
There is so much hype created around this new creative writer darling, I don't know where to begin in de-cluttering it all. One thing I will say, is if you want a brilliant marriage of creativity, delicious humor and a riveting story, please read the lesser known CLAIRE ANGE by a writer not many know of, but should: M.A. Kirkwood. (I also loved the first from this author, SIMON LAZARUS)

Okay, with that said, Ms. Russell has a delightful imagination. And she writes with spunk and verve--why I give
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Vince
Why just 2 stars for an author who writes weird and inventive tales with the deft application of prose? Possibly because this collection of eight stories contained only two that I enjoyed (Reeling for the Empire, The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis), a couple that were OK but easily forgotten (Proving Up, The New Veterans) and four that should have been left behind. Taken as a whole, my biggest problem with these stories is the dearth of character development. It's hard to care about what happens t ...more
Douglas
I'm not sure if I can articulate why I liked this so much. I think more than anything and more than any recent books I've read, this one made me want to meet and interview the author. I think I could easily turn into a Belieberish-type (Did I just coin a term?) fan of Karen Russell. (I won't however, because I'm pushing 40 with a wife I adore and three kids. I'm too old for the trappings of fandom.)
But yeah, I would love to pick her brain. This is some of the most intelligent writing I've ever r
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Susan Tunis
Russell’s sophomore collection proves provocative and disquieting

I was introduced to Ms. Russell’s work through her Pulitzer Prize finalist debut novel, Swamplandia! I was immediately seduced by her imaginative use of language, as well as the quirky tale and endearing central character. I came to Vampires in the Lemon Grove, her second story collection, expecting more of the same except, you know, shorter. I don’t know that my expectations were fully met.

Ms. Russell writes beautifully—so no com
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John
A Brilliant Short Story Collection from Karen Russell

With “Vampires in the Lemon Grove”, Karen Russell demonstrates why she is among our finest young American writers of contemporary fiction, elegantly transcending and melding genres in what is truly a most captivating short story collection. Drawing upon fantasy and horror, Russell merges them effortlessly into mainstream literary fiction, conjuring tales as memorable as any published recently by the likes of Dan Chaon and Charles Yu. Having he
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Kay
I really like Karen Russell, and even though I agree that some of the stories are better than others, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one. Short stories are often the playground that authors use to develop new ideas that will eventually become novels. I'd be really happy to see several of these morph into novels, and I'd especially be excited to see Russell venture further into the supernatural. She's a very talented young writer, and I really can't wait to see what she ...more
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Goodreads Italia: Un vampiro tra i limoni 1 12 Apr 02, 2013 01:36AM  
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Karen Russell graduated from Columbia University's MFA program in 2006. Her stories have been featured in The Best American Short Stories, Conjunctions, Granta, The New Yorker, Oxford American, and Zoetrope. Her first book of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, was published in September 2006. In November 2009, she was named a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree. I ...more
More about Karen Russell...
Swamplandia! St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves Sleep Donation The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis The Bad Graft

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Forever, just the word fills Beverly with an unaccountable, schoolmarmish sort of rage. Forever, that's got to be bad math, right? Such terrifying math.” 5 likes
“Still, I'm not convinced that you were right, Dai--that it's such a bad thing, a useless enterprise to reel and reel out my memory at night. Some part of me, the human part of me, is kept alive by this, I think. Like water flushing a wound, to prevent it from closing. I am a lucky one, like Chiyo says. I made a terrible mistake. In Gifu, in my raggedy clothes, I had an unreckonable power. I didn't know it at the time. But when I return to the stairwell now, I can feel them webbing around me: my choices, their infinite variety, spiraling out of my hands, my invisible thread. Regret is a pilgrimage back to the place where I was free to choose. It's become my sanctuary here in Nowhere Mill. A threshold where I still exist.” 4 likes
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