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Orange World and Other Stories (2019)

by Karen Russell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1966100,811 (4.04)15
"From the Pulitzer finalist and universally beloved author of the New York Times best sellers Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, a stunning new collection of short fiction that showcases her extraordinary gifts of language and imagination"--
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Karen Russell is one of my favorite writers around today. While I enjoyed all of her word choices - "koalaing" as verb was adorable, for example – I preferred the stories that hewed a bit closer to reality, with something mystical thrown in. "The Bad Graft" and "Orange World" were my favorites, though I did like the post-climate change twist of "The Gondoliers," too. Looking forward to her next work, as always! ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
Her heart is breaking not to be with her daughter, just as Rae's is breaking not to be with her mother and her grandmother. The breaking is continuous - in the ouroboros of caretaking, guilt and love and fear and love continuously swallow one another.

Unbelievably, my first time reading Karen Russell. I see why she's so popular, though: dramatic, movie-like plots with narrative stylings reminiscent of Byatt, Waters, and Kingsolver.

There are 8 stories in this volume. Only one I was truly meh about ("Black Corfu"); the rest were interesting to captivating. "The Prospectors" was like The Shining meets Carnivale -- it was creepy and moody and atmospheric, a historical horror that I could have easily inhaled as a full length novel. Two of Russell's stories take place in a world touched by extreme weather: "The Tornado Auction", in which tornadoes are farm raised like livestock (dangerous, dangerous livestock) and "The Gondoliers", in which catastrophic climate change transformed Florida and four of its inhabitants. There could be sanctimonious judgment but Russell stays away from that; she is loving in her description of place, fully immersed in the world of her characters.

"Madame Bovary's Greyhound" is about precisely that. If I wasn't a dog owner, I'm not sure the story would have hit me as hard but having a puppy now, I was aching for that sad, sweet greyhound. "The Bad Graft" is a sci-fi horror film my wife would uh-dore; "The Bog Girl: A Romance" would be a weird indie rom com neither of us would get.

Russell's titular story struck me the most intensely; it's the story of a pregnant woman and all the anxiety that entails. According to her new parents class, red world is one that is hazardous to babies. Orange world is negligent -- the world most of us operate in. Our heroine Rae makes a deal with, she thinks, the devil, to ensure her baby's safety. As things shake out, it's not THE devil, but A devil she's bound herself to, and it's sad and comedic in equal part. I was reminded, frankly, of my post-partum depression and the way it enslaved me to a certain kind of thinking and behavior.

I can't compare this volume to her other work but as a first time dive, it's wonderful. Escapist, smart, moving, brief -- perfect reading. ( )
  unabridgedchick | Oct 9, 2019 |
I called this "delightful" elsewhere, and I think that's going to be my standing adjective for this collection, in all senses of the word. I love how you can see Russell's imagination at work, the "what if?" behind every story—whether it's (perhaps) a photograph she may have seen, or a news item, or a question in her own head, there's this wonderful authorial inquisitiveness bubbling under the surface of each one. Some are set in the past, some in the future; there's quite a bit of magical realism—not always my favorite trends in recent short fiction—but it's more on the allegorical tip and it works for me here. Altogether just a very enjoyable collection. ( )
1 vote lisapeet | Sep 21, 2019 |
This is a collection of short stories to be savored. After reading Swamplandia I expected fine writing, but my expectations were exceeded. Karen Russell 's style is elegant, lyrical, and accessible, with memorable turns of phrase. The stories may seem bizarre, but the plots move along and capture our attention, and although the characters and their situations may be incredible and even distasteful, at the same time we believe in them and care. ( )
  sleahey | Jun 4, 2019 |
What Russell has accomplished with these stories are hard to describe, but I'll try. She takes what often starts off as a relatively normal situation, and then pulls the stories into a surreal world. One never knows when, how or even why it happens but it does. I'm always in awe of authors who have this kind of imagination, and write so well that the reader accepts these situations as they are. Fiendish!

This is a strong work. Eight stories, all but one I liked, the first, The Prospector my favorite. There is humor, horror, unbelievable happenings accepted as normal. They are strange, but always recognizable, the emotion true. In short, very unexpected, different, and executed well.

"Look," he says dreamily, and points to where the moon is rising, bright and enormous as the door to another Galaxy, on the opposite side of the bay."

ARc from Edelweiss. ( )
  Beamis12 | May 30, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Karen Russellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gall, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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