swamplandia!


'I'd fix on the Chief's raw, rope-burned palms or all the fray hairs collected in his sink, and I'd suffer this terrible side pain that Kiwi said was probably an ulcer and Ossie diagnosed as lovesickness. Or rather a nausea produced by the "black fruit" of love—a terror that sprouted out of your love for someone like rotten oranges on a tree branch. Osceola knew all about this black fruit, she said, because she'd grown it for our mother, our father, Grandpa Sawtooth, even me and Kiwi. Loving a ghost was different, she explained—that kind of love was a bare branch. I pictured this branch curving inside my sister: something leafless and complete, elephantine, like a white tusk. No rot, she was saying, not fruit. You couldn't lose a ghost to death.'


- Karen Russell
Swamplandia!
(Page 39)




Swamplandia! broke my heart.
Due to the simple fact that i didn't see it coming.
I let the protagonist, Ava down.
I couldn't stop it, it's literature, the story exists already.
The only way to prevent it from happening is to stop reading and i couldn't leave Ava that way.
But i should have seen it coming.
As an 'adult', as someone who knows better, i should have been more protective over her, instead of willing her to continue her Hellish pursuit and realising the inevitable too late.
I feel a genuine sense of guilt and that's something new for me in the literary world.
It's a testament to Karen Russell's writing.
And just how bloody wonderful the act of reading is.


The London Review of Books says it with more eloquence than i'm managing:

'Ava's narrative occupies fertile territory half-way between realism and fantasy, innocence and experience... Russell leaves just enough for us to question our reading of events, so that when the scales fall from Ava's eyes we are implicated in her naivety.'