Jennifer's Reviews > Swamplandia!

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
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's review
Jul 02, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 25 to 30, 2012

This book is definitely an American original while borrowing from traditions of the coming-of-age story and maybe even a little Mark Twain and Jack London. Russell creates a fascinating family of individuals in the swamp-dwelling, alligator-wrestling Bigtrees. I liked the way she explores states of in-betweenness. The swamp where the family lives is this almost hallucinatory liminal space between land and water, between mainstream culture and eccentricity, between childhood and adulthood. The tone of the book also walks this fine line between realism and magical realism and it's a hugely emotionally wrenching jolt when the narrative finally comes down on one side of that line. I also liked Russell's exploration of the spaces on the edge of America, where the blandness of "mainland" culture breaks down and the wilderness takes over, with prehistoric monsters lurking in the waters.

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