Karen Russell Archive

Launching

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Today, my first book launches. It’s kind of a wonderful word, launch: such propulsive force in its sound. Such muscular, fearless leaping. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d take a look at launchings of various kinds in literature. Not gradual beginnings, not slow evolutions into different forms, but sudden

Frontload the Strangeness: On Mark Slouka’s “Dog”

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It seems that every book I’ve read recently has a talking animal in it. A new favorite is Max Porter’s novel, which begins with a protagonist opening the door to find a life-sized crow on his doorstep. The bird picks the man up, cradles him in his wings.

Lilies in the Yard: On Getting Away

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I reread Sylvia Plath this summer on a fairly remote island off Ireland’s Connemara coast. Plath had been there once in September of 1962. She and Ted Hughes accepted an invitation from the Irish poet, Richard Murphy, to visit him at his home in the country’s heralded west.

Five Fabulist Sentences

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As a reader, I’m a sentence-collector: for their sound, and also for the fascination of inspecting one small, discrete piece of something and seeing what it has to say about the whole.

We Have Something to Say

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Inside most classrooms lives a beast, many-eyed. If you’ve been a student in a classroom, especially in those early grades when a year lasts an eon, you’ve been part of this beast. You saw your elementary-school teachers with a collective, sharpened vision (their combovers, fluffy perms, paunches, thick, magnifying

“Death!/ Plop.”: The Instructive Power of Very Bad Art

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In the basement of three small theaters in Massachusetts lives a collection of some of humankind’s worst artistic efforts: the Museum of Bad Art. Everything in the collection is gloriously, earnestly bad (the curators reject anything that seems bad by intention). You can go there. You should. The photograph

Episodia 1.9: Every Camp Story is a Ghost Story

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I will never, ever tire of reading about summer camp. Inspired by a recent re-reading of my favorite short story—“Brownies” by Z.Z. Packer—I spent the entire month of June in literary camp land. I started with Anton DiSclafani’s unforgettable debut The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls; then I moved on

“Look Who Made It:” A Playlist for Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove

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To me, a new Karen Russell book is literary Christmas. Her new collection tells the stories of characters doing their best to conquer insurmountable odds: addiction, enslavement, the aftereffects of war. The stories explore the strengths and frailties of people; below, I’ve tried to match each one with a