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Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories | [Karen Russell]

Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories

In the collection's marvelous title story, two aging vampires in a sun-drenched Italian lemon grove find their hundred-year marriage tested when one of them develops a fear of flying. In "The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979", a dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left in a seagull's nest. "Proving Up" and "The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis" find Russell veering into more sinister territory.
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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the instant New York Times best seller Swamplandia! (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), a dazzling new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell's gifts at their inimitable best.

In the collection's marvelous title story, two aging vampires in a sun-drenched Italian lemon grove find their hundred-year marriage tested when one of them develops a fear of flying. In "The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979", a dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left in a seagull's nest. "Proving Up" and "The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis" - stories of children left to fend for themselves in dire predicaments - find Russell veering into more sinister territory, and ultimately crossing the line into full-scale horror. In "The New Veterans", a massage therapist working with a tattooed war veteran discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the images on his body. In all, these wondrous new pieces display a young writer of superlative originality and invention coming into the full range and scale of her powers.

©2013 Karen Russell (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“An eight-tale adrenaline-delivery system packed with long-married, problem-beset monsters, abandoned children whose lives are in dire peril, teens with creepy sixth senses, and masseuses with inexplicable healing powers…Darkly inventive, demonically driven narratives set in the author’s inimitable imaginative disturbia.” (Elle)

“Consistently arresting…startling…profound…Even more impressive than Russell’s critically acclaimed novel." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“Russell doesn’t work small. She’s a world builder, and the stranger the better…Russell’s great gift - along with her antic imagination - is her ability to create whole landscapes and lifetimes of strangeness within the confines of a short story.” (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (106 )
5 star
 (32)
4 star
 (30)
3 star
 (24)
2 star
 (14)
1 star
 (6)
Overall
3.6 (95 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (94 )
5 star
 (36)
4 star
 (31)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 04-10-13
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 04-10-13 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stylish modern magic realism"

    I hadn't read anything by Karen Russell before (the mixed reviews of Swamplandia suggested an overhyped young author), but thought I'd check out this collection of short stories.

    The pieces all have the kind of whimsical-but-serious premises you'll recognize if you've ever opened a copy of McSweeney’s or listened to a song by The Decemberists. A vampire in a state of ennui is hung up on behaving in stereotypical vampire ways, even though his vampire girlfriend has assured him it's not necessary to drink blood or fear the sun. Seagulls bring objects that alter the life of a teenager in 1970s Australia, and reflect his mixed admiration and jealousy towards his older brother. Girls in a 19th century Japanese mill are biochemically transformed into human silkworms, but later stage an unprecedented work stoppage. A massage therapist finds that her fingers can alter the memories -- and past -- of a young Iraq War veteran, but not without cost. President Rutherford Hayes is reincarnated as a horse, in a barn housing other former US presidents (or at least popular caricatures of them) who are now horses, and frets that his former wife may be a nearby sheep.

    Most pieces evoke a mood that’s an enjoyable mix of absurd, wry, poignant, unsettling, and haunting. Russell has a gift for artful physical description and crafting voices. The skillful cast of voice actors who performed the audiobook probably deserve part of the credit for that, too.

    However, there’s somewhat of a sense of a natural stylist still finding her feet in other departments. The two duds (IMO) were the krill vs. whales piece that tried for laughs, but came off more like a Dave Barry column with f-bombs, and one that had a teenage bully of a protagonist who was a little too unconvincing for me. I wouldn’t have minded had she pushed her more "unfinished" endings a little further -- I think ambiguity is a delicious ingredient, but teaspoons, Ms. Russell, not tablespoons.

    Still, if you're a fan of magic realism in the same vein as Kelly Link's fiction, you'll probably enjoy this book. Russell's talent might have yet to reach its full bloom, but it's well on the way.

    3.5 stars

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison Kappadahl Charlotte, NC United States 04-07-13
    Allison Kappadahl Charlotte, NC United States 04-07-13 Member Since 2011

    alliecat1

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting stories...Too bad they're short"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes if they were to quirky stories/paranormal I would. They are interesting stories. The author knows how to write.


    What other book might you compare Vampires in the Lemon Grove to and why?

    Any of the short stories by charlaine harris and others. They are fun and give a taste of the paranormal world without going too far.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The first story was AWESOME!


    If you could rename Vampires in the Lemon Grove, what would you call it?

    I don't know I like it.


    Any additional comments?

    want more!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Casey New York, NY, United States 02-24-13
    Casey New York, NY, United States 02-24-13
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    "Recommended on NPR - Very cool"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Very cool short stories that were recommend on NPR Fresh air. If your looking for "Twilight" go elsewhere. If you are looking for modern cool writing check this out!


    What other book might you compare Vampires in the Lemon Grove to and why?

    Reminded me of George Saunders


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyla 08-17-13
    Kyla 08-17-13 Member Since 2012
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    Story
    "Excellent narrators, quirky stories"

    A lot of reviewers say that this is an uneven book-- and I agree that some stories are stronger than others. I feel like either you get what Russell is going for and like it, or it's not your thing at all. What she excels at, in my opinion, is creating a rich and realized storyworld for each piece in this collection. I found her characters interesting and generally sympathetic. What she's not so great at is nailing the ending-- but I can forgive that because her use of language is so engaging and poetic. I want to add that I HIGHLY recommend this audiobook (over reading a hard copy) because the narration is fantastic. Each story has its own narrator and I thought all of them were truly wonderful. The narration alone made this one of the best audiobooks I've listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie VANCOUVER, WA, United States 07-15-13
    Natalie VANCOUVER, WA, United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Haunting, engrossing stories"
    Where does Vampires in the Lemon Grove rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is by far one of the best audio books I've listened to! The stories were all quite different, with different narrators to match. The best of them were utterly haunting. The words and voices cast a spell on me, and linger with me still.


    What did you like best about this story?

    My favorite stories really stayed with me. The stories themselves are lovely, dark, beautiful things, and the actors reading them were perfectly chosen.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite stories were the silk weaver, the massage therapist, and the scarecrow ones. They seemed to get at a dark, true element of human psychology in a way that realism never could.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this audio book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Lake Oswego, OR, United States 04-24-13
    Dr. Lake Oswego, OR, United States 04-24-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Ouch! Don't Do It."

    Ouch! I wish I had listened to the other Audible.com reviews. I had read a print review (in People magazine?) that made this collection of short stories sound interesting. I was pretty shocked by the reviews of other Audible.com listeners, however, and I thought it can't be that bad. Well, it is that bad. With the exception of the title story (Vampires in the Lemon Grove), these were poorly written and uninteresting stories.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David San Jose, CA, United States 02-26-13
    David San Jose, CA, United States 02-26-13 Member Since 2004

    Artist living & working in the SF Bay Area

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    "What was first quirky - quickly becomes annoying"

    At first the book (and its preview sample) seemed quirky and interesting. The characters are mostly weak and whiny, foolish, but quirky. But much like a trip to an annoying relatives house - its quirky storytelling somehow wears thin and becomes painfully tedious. I went from plain ignoring it to wishing it would shut up, and had to shut it off.

    I really had high hopes - and I do enjoy a wide variety of styles. But because the characters were just so pathetic across the board - I don't think I could sympathize with them. I shut this off with great disappointment.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H. Amme Haddon Township, NJ 02-28-13
    H. Amme Haddon Township, NJ 02-28-13 Member Since 2011

    reading again

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    "WASTE OF CREDIT"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Some who likes no end to a story.


    What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

    The performance of the narrators was fine


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The second story Reeling for the Empire was the best story in the collection.


    0 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis SCHAUMBURG, ILLINOIS, United States 02-20-13
    Dennis SCHAUMBURG, ILLINOIS, United States 02-20-13 Member Since 2003
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    "A waste of time and money"

    There not one story in this collection I could acctually sit back and say wow that was good.
    There was not one story in this collection I could even say pretty good. Not one.
    I don't know excactly how to describe it. Some where just stupid. Some were boring. Some were both. Do yourself a favor and svae your credits.

    0 of 8 people found this review helpful
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