Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Swamplandia! is one of those books with an amazing title and characters that at least sound interesting, but it just doesn't have that certain something that makes me want to keep turning the pats to find out what happens next. The Bigtree Family, owners of the now defunct alligator wrestling theme park, Swamplandia! are trying to regain their business and their pride. So far, they're failing on both fronts. Meanwhile, our heroine, Ava Bigtree's sister Ossie, is hanging onto her sanity by a thread: she thinks she sleeps with dead people. Why isn't this awesome? I'm not sure. It just isn't.
Karen Russell writes well. The descriptions of the setting and her characters are appropriately surreal, but I can't help feeling like she never really joins the freak show. In Anne Tyler's books, she creates equally strange worlds within neighborhoods we know and families (we think) we understand, by empathizing with their strangeness because it's a weird world, and some of us have to get weird to survive.
Karen Russell is an author to watch and I'm definitely reading her other book. I just hope that one day, she comes to love hr little cast of freaks enough to let them soar.
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