…Ms. Russell deftly combines elements of the weird and supernatural with acute psychological realism; elements of the gothic with dry, contemporary humor. From apparent influences as disparate as George Saunders, Saki, Stephen King, Carson McCullers and Joy Williams, she has fashioned a quirky, textured voice that is thoroughly her own: by turns lyrical and funny, fantastical and meditative. Vampires in the Lemon Grove shows Ms. Russell more in control of her craft than ever…In these tales [she] combines careful research (into, say, a legend, a historical episode or a tradecraft) with minutely imagined details and a wonderfully vital sleight of hand to create narratives that possess both the resonance of myth and the immediacy of something new.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
Russell is no coy or mannered mistress of the freaky. Much of the pleasure in reading her comes from the wily freshness of her language and the breezy nastiness of her observations…A grim, stupendous, unfavorable magic is at work in these stories.
Joy Williams - New York Times Book Review
Vampires in the Lemon Grove should cement [Russell's] reputation as one of the most remarkable fantasists writing today…Two of these tales are among the best and most chilling I've read in years…[the] exquisite precision and conflation of the commonplace with the marvelous is a hallmark of Russell's prose style, infusing her work with a sense of the uncanny that keeps a reader off balance right until the last sentence.
Elizabeth Hand - Washington Post
Exquisitely peculiar…Vampires trades in the mythological waters of the Florida Everglades for eight new, but still darkly fantastical and dangerous worlds that constantly remind the reader that monsters and violence are always around the corner, and in ourselves.
Wall Street Journal
Russell returns to the story form with renewed daring, leading us again into uncharted terrain, though as fantastic as the predicaments she imagines are, the emotions couldn’t be truer to life.... Mind-blowing, mythic, macabre, hilarious.
There are only eight stories in Russell’s new collection, but as readers of Swamplandia! know, Russell doesn’t work small. She’s a world builder, and the stranger the better. Not that she writes fantasy, exactly: the worlds she creates live within the one we know—but sometimes they operate by different rules.... Russell’s great gift—along with her antic imagination—who else would give us a barn full of ex-presidents reincarnated as horses?—is her ability to create whole landscapes and lifetimes of strangeness within the confines of a short story.
The New Yorker's 20 Under 40. Granta's Best Young American Novelists. The National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35. Russell surely has had a stellar career, straight out of the gate. Her new collection echoes the witty lusciousness of her first novel, Pulitzer finalist Swamplandia! .... [T]he title piece features two vampires whose 100-year-old marriage is on the skids because one has developed a fear of flying. A few stories, like those about abandoned children, lose the wit and lusciousness and go all dark.
A consistently arresting, frequently stunning collection of eight stories. Though Russell enjoyed her breakthrough--both popular and critical--with her debut novel (Swamplandia!, 2011), she had earlier attracted notice with her short stories (St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, 2006). Here, she returns to that format with startling effect, reinforcing the uniqueness of her fiction, employing situations that are implausible, even outlandish, to illuminate the human condition..... Even more impressive than Russell's critically acclaimed novel.
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