September 30, 2006

Oh, the blog.

My poor, sad little bloglet. So neglected.

I have a new job which may allow for more reading and/or posting time, so perhaps the blog will be resuscitated. We'll see.

In the meantime, I have written a few book reviews for the local paper - trifling, but they could act as blank-space-filler for now. Sort of like they do for the paper. Oh look! Here comes one, now!

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
by Karen Russell

Modern fantasy fiction is perhaps not exactly what you think it is. Sure, there are plenty of books still being written about hobbits and trolls, and warriors from other planets. But there is also a cadre of authors like Kelly Link and Aimee Bender who, while not typical “fantasy” writers, do test the boundaries of realism in their works, and blend the magical with the everyday.

Karen Russell is the latest addition to this genre of magical-realist, “fabulist” writers. Only 25 years old, the author’s work has already appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and other magazines. In her fictional debut, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, the inventive author treats us to ten tales of minotaurs, werewolves, grottoes and swamps, alligators and nuns. Narrated by weird children with unlikely vocabularies, the stories are over-the-top. Despite this, the author manages to infuse her characters with a familiar humanity, and the combination is gripping. The result is that her tales are both moving and delightful.
Sister Maria gave her a brave smile. "And what is your name?" she asked. The oldest sister howled something awful and inarticulate, a distillate of hurt and panic, half-forgotten hunts and eclipsed moons. Sister Maria nodded and scribbled on a yellow legal pad. She slapped on a name tag: HELLO, MY NAME IS ______! "Jeannette it is."

Though Russell's stories are coming-of-age fables, she is not writing for adolescents. The territory she explores is often dark, and role models for the young people in the stories are few. Magical tales such as those found in this book will not appeal to everyone, I know. “Fantasy” fiction has never exactly been my cup of tea, either. But in the end, how can you not be enchanted by sentences like, “On the fourth night of our search, I see a churning clump of ghost children”?

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