Book Review: Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Russell

Book Review: Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Russell

 

Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Russell

Story Collection: Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Russell

 

Karen Russell has won a MacArthur Genius award among many other awards and recognitions for her novels. In Orange World and Other Stories she turns her pen toward short stories, and unleashes a fierce and sometimes frightening imagination.

 

Orange World might be the perfect Halloween book. Even the title is “orange.” The stories walk the line between fantasy and horror. A couple of young women visit a ski lodge inhabited entirely by ghosts. A young mother makes a deal to nurse a devil in exchange for the life of her child. A gondolier with echolocation abilities takes a man to his appointment with death. A young man falls in love with a “bog girl,” a 2,000 year-old body pulled intact from a peat bog. An elderly man devotes himself to raising a tornado. The stories sometimes sneak up on you, appearing to be one thing and then turning dark and dangerous. Sometimes they reveal themselves early on, as in the second sentence of the titular story, “She feels like a gutshot animal lying in the road.” But whether they ease you into the reveal or start off dark and deadly, Russell’s stories continue to mine the fears and concerns we hate to admit to ourselves.

 

Fundamentally, these stories are about our own fears. The mother who makes the deal with the devil does so because she is afraid for her child’s health and safety. The boy who falls in love with the bog girl is already an outcast, drawn to another outcast. Fear of alienation, worry about family, longing for acceptance. These themes wend their way through the stories.

 

Karen Russell is an exceptional writer. If you are looking for something that is dark and eerie, but also speaks to themes that are eternal and universal, Orange World and Other Stories is an outstanding choice.

 

Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Russell

Book Review: Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Russell

 

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