Archive for April, 2013

Review: The Fun Parts

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Even if Sam Lipsyte’s The Fun Parts is aptly named I’m curious to see what the rest of his writing is like.  What’s here is wonderfully character-driven mayhem that is great fun to read.  Because this is not happening to you.

Lipsyte walks a fun line creating characters that are both chaotic and small.  They’ll screw up the lives of those around them and themselves with grand emotion and petty scale (as an internet acquaintance once quipped). None of these folks are villains, but all of them are screwed up in some semi-comical way.

There are real tragedies in here as well, but even the foregone conclusions and dire destinies are the stuff of comic opera.  Each of these characters is an embodiment of a non-obvious but twisted aspect of our culture.  Things could be dire in some cases, but Lipsyte provokes a wry smile and a “what are you going to do” shrug more often than despair.

These are a lot of demented fun.


Review: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Vampires in the Lemon Grove is a collection of wonderfully off-kilter short stories from Karen Russell that manage to be symbolic without being portentous.  All of them have some aspect of the magical in them, but no two are alike.  The variety of setting and character keeps the ideas fresh and the stories engaging.

The stories are also refreshingly non-cinematic.  More to the point, they’re literary without making too much of that fact.  They are a pleasure to read as much for their language and their structure as they are for their incident.  They hold the reader’s attention without spectacle or excessive flash.  I wanted to see what happened as much for what it means as for how a story turns out.

Vampires contains stories that reward  contemplation and capture attention.