Ghouls, Ghosts, Gondoliers

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Orange World

Karen Russell

288 pages, Short Stories

So, I never read Swamplandia!. I know, I know. I’m gonna. But, my wife’s copy of Orange World came in the mail and we read it together.

The stand out selections:

1) “The Bad Graft”: What happens when a plant inhabits a human? Answer: a lot of awkwardness. I really like what Ms. Russell does with POV in this story. Thinking like a plant and wanting plant wants is pretty fun.

2) “Black Corfu”: The reversal here is delicious. Doctors are supposed to save lives. This doctor keeps the dead, dead. The sense of underworld vs. high ground is really interesting here.

3) “The Gondoliers”: Florida is no more, drowned under rising tides. I really enjoyed this story and it’s my favorite from the collection. The sense of toxic waste, the importance of family, and the idea that our plans can fail is really well executed here. You’ve probably read post-apocalyptic stories, but you haven’t read one quite like this. I wish this story was a full novel. I would have liked to see this one keep going.

4) The title story, “Orange World” is creepy and really hit home for me as I have a toddler and have seen what birth and feeding a child look like. The daily stress of keeping a toddler alive is no joke. My wife agrees that the story captures postpartum fears and turmoil.

Overall, i’d recommend picking up this collection. I struggled to get into a few of the stories here, but Russell’s turn of phrase and figurative language were amazing in every story. Now, where did I leave my copy of Swamplandia!?