Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories - Karen Russell
The eight stories in Russell’s second collection feature a series of metamorphoses. In completely realistic settings—the prairie during a blizzard, a sunny Italian tourist trap, a middle school rife with bullies—the stabilities of identity and everyday life suddenly shift, in startling but psychologically apt ways, revealing new facets about the characters and their worlds. The title story follows aging, but immortal, vampires as they disprove the myths of their kind and search, like any elderly couple of means, for the perfect place to retire. In another tale, girls forced into slave labor as silkworms go on strike—spinning cocoons that will free them into new lives. The powerful “The New Veterans” is the account of a returned Iraq-war soldier who’s made himself a living memorial by getting an elaborate tattoo of the site where his friend died in an explosion, a tattoo that tells different stories as the man works through his trauma. Throughout the book Russell’s prose sparkles with telling phrases and vivid descriptions.