Joe Flood's Reviews > Swamplandia!

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
4688670
's review
Mar 28, 2012

liked it
Read on March 28, 2012

The novel starts off incredibly strong, giving us the colorful portrait of the Bigtree family, famed alligator wrestlers of the Everglades. Being from Florida myself, I’ve felt that the comic potential of the state has been underutilized. From exiles plotting revolution to greedy condo flippers, if any state could produce The Great American Novel, it’s this one.

The collapse of the Bigtree family mirrors what’s going on in “mainland” society. Their struggles are shared by many in more prosaic circumstances – they lose it all and the family falls apart.

The section of the novel where the Bigtrees adapt to normal life is fascinating. I loved Russell’s depiction of The World of Darkness, a hell-themed amusement park on the mainland. It’s like a Disney World created by sadists.

But then the book rambles, in an endless journey through the swamp as 12-year-old Ava Bigtree goes in search of her older sister. Lush descriptions of flora and fauna are piled one upon another, creating a mangrove thicket of prose that nearly stops the reader cold.

It’s one of those books where you find yourself peeking ahead a few pages. When is the story getting back to the World of Darkness?

The odyssey in the Everglades takes so long that the ending feels rushed, unresolved, leaving dramatic threads hanging.

Swamplandia! is a good hundred pages too long.
1 like · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Swamplandia!.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.