Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Swamplandia! - Karen Russell
At first you won't suspect that this book is going dark places. It has an edge to it for sure, but I was caught off guard toward the latter part of the book. Fortunately for me, I like dark books.
It's an original tale with quirky settings and characters. There is some outstanding writing, and many laugh out loud moments. At times, it reminded me of Geek Love. Russell successfully sucks you into her world. But like the gators which are wrestled with in the book, sometimes she lets you go.
I struggled a bit with the pacing of the novel; found it very uneven. It would be slow going for a while, and then it would pick up and I would think, 'yay! here we go', and then she'd would sort of veer off on an historical footnote or some other detail which didn't add much to the story. Some of that felt like filler. 40 or 50 less pages, and this would been a 5-star read for me.
It was fun, unique, funny and dark. This also seems like it might be really good on audio.
Incidentally, for some reason this book keeps being affiliated with David Foster Wallace, and suggestions like "buy together with Infinite Jest", or tag with Tennis? I'm guessing it has something to do with both authors short story collections, and I'm not curious enough to do a lot of research about it. Those associations should in no way affect your buying decision of this book positively or negatively. The writing and story telling is nothing like DFW or IJ.
4 out of 5 gators in the swamp