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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Short Stories That Stay with You

I read St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell while staying in Texas with my husband on a business trip. I couldn't really get anywhere while he was at work, so this book helped me feel not so trapped. It opens up a wide world of fantasy. 
All of the stories in this collection are memorable. The evocative writing matches the crazily imaginative premises and events perfectly, fleshing out characters I think will haunt me for some time. Russell uses children characters as a vehicle for issues and unresolved feelings we still experience as adults, as well evidenced in "Out to Sea," in which the main character is a retired man instead of the inscrutable girl he's matched up with in a public service program. I very much appreciate the Russell's imagination. 
The single disappointment is the way the stories ended. Each time, it seemed, just as things were coming to a real head, the narration suddenly dropped off. This is a useful technique when describing uncertain and unresolved experiences, but it became too predictable when it appeared in story after story. A writer as talented as Russell shouldn't have to resort to the same kind of ending absolutely every time. That said, I hope to read more by her even if the endings aren't different!