Swamps & Bears

I recently finished two books, each quite different.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

The first was Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. It is a very subtle book. I don’t know exactly when I became so invested in the characters, but I spent the last fifteen pages with tears streaming down my face, not necessarily because the ending was sad, but rather because I was overwhelmed by the growth and development of the characters and the general sense of family.

Swamplandia! is essentially a book very much about family. It details the life of the Bigtree tribe; a family of swamp dwellers, who aren’t really Indians and run an amusement park based around swamp thrills and alligator wrestling – an endeavor that falls apart when the star’s show (and this family’s wife and mother) Hilola Bigtree falls victim to cancer. The novel shows the Bigtree family coming to terms with her death and the unavoidable collapse of their beloved park and island; each member of the family dealing in marked and different ways.

I very much enjoyed Swamplandia!. Russell writes quite beautifully in a marked, yet skillfully paced tone. I am very much looking forward to picking up her latest novel Vampires in the Lemon Grove. I really took my time reading Swamplandia! and I think that’s the best way for it to be read that way you can really absorb the breadth and depth of the story and storytelling.

Bear: A Novel by Marian Engel
Bear: A Novel by Marian Engel

The second book I recently completed feels like more of a novella at 122 pages, Bear by Marian Engel. It’s published by Godine , a local Boston publishers. It is a rather provocative book detailing a librarian’s intimate relationship with a bear as she takes inventory of an estate left to her institution on a remote Canadian island. The novel tells a story of sexual awakening and self-discovery. While what some may consider a bit shocking, the story is captivating and remarkably well written. Engel’s voice is authoritative and she writes just very beautifully.

I have been away from blogging the last month or so because I’ve been working on other projects. Namely, I video blogged every single day in the month of April. Feel free to check out the fruits of my labor here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLO1L6p_YarKW0I–goqu0VLbcVQNxPgNb&feature=mh_lolz

I had a fun time and there’s some good stuff in there if I say so myself.

Until next time!



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