…This nostalgic and affecting story of siblings (and family) is a philosophical meditation on memory and the driven desire for autobiography–to document and render a consequential life, and to assemble disparate experiences into coherent narratives. â€śAnd even then,â€ť says Denise, â€śthe backward glance is distorted by the lens of the presentâ€¦It is not just that emotions distort memory. It is that memory distorts memory.â€ť
Perhaps itâ€™s entirely appropriate that their last name is Fang. For Caleb and Camille are truly parasitesâ€”sucking the blood out of their children, while using them primarily in the service of their art. â€śKids kill art,â€ť the elder Fangsâ€™ mentor once told them. Determined to prove him wrong, Caleb and Camille incorporate Annie and Buster, their two children, into their artâ€”even referring to them as Child A and Child B, mere props in the various performance art sketches they carry out.
In her hotly-anticipated debut novel, SWAMPLANDIA!, Karen Russell returns to the mosquito-droves and muggy-haze of the Florida Everglades and the gator-themed amusement park featured in her short story, â€śAva Wrestles the Alligator,â€ť that opened her widely-praised 2006 collection, ST. LUCY’S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES. It was that collection, with its exuberant mix of satire and fabulism, that secured Russellâ€™s reputation as one of the most exciting up-and-comers around and earned her a coveted spot on The New Yorkerâ€™s much buzzed about â€ś20 under 40â€ť list last fall. With her energetic prose, quirky settings, and fantastical plots, Russell is a writerâ€™s whose style forces you to sit up and take notice, sometimes at the cost of emotional involvement with her work. However, Swamplandia!, with all its flashing-neon prose is an insightful (and surprisingly funny) exploration of the loss of innocence that inevitably follows the death of a parent.
February 2, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· 3 Comments
Tags: brother-sister, carnival, Knopf, Loss, Magical Realism, Quirky, Sisters Â· Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Family Matters, Florida, Humorous, Unique Narrative