Tuesday, 21 December 2010

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

by Karen Russell

The heroes of these ten tales are children on the verge of adulthood. While the title story firmly belongs in the realm of magical realism, the others, such as Ava Wrestles the Alligator and Haunting Olivia, appear to be made from the material of dreams — and, just like dreams, do not resolve, satisfactorily or otherwise. Children’s Reminiscences of the Westward Migration could be either. (Do you have dreams where you are reminiscing?) And Out to Sea, perhaps the best story of the collection, is thoroughly realistic. Maybe it is a true story.

When things first started to go missing around the cabin, Sawtooth chalked it up to the onslaught of dementia. He was relieved when he realized it was just Augie. He does little experiments to test her. He’ll leave something small on the table, a pack of Sir Puffers or a withered red starfish, and go crouch in the bathroom. When he comes back, the table is always empty, the girl smiling with her hands folded neatly in her lap.

Sawtooth likes it best when she takes sentimental things, objects with no resale value whatsoever. She steals his left socks, his grocery lists; she pries the little hand off the wall clock.
On her last visit, the girl stole one of his family photographs right out of the frame. He thinks this means she is starting to care about him, too.
Out to Sea
St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage Contemporaries)

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