This happens hundreds of times a day in New Florida. The power and control the narrator wields with the cooperation of her song and pole as she maneuvers through dangerous waters is similar to what Russell does through the page with her pen. Like her gondolier, she is hunting and discovering openings as she writes, charting unexpected pathways and avoiding unseen dangers as she guides the reader through her narratives. There are few who can write so convincingly as Russell that the apocalypse is not the end of the world.
Though a ghost story set almost a century in the past, the ghoulishness of the tale is in its depiction of two women in desperate need to perform for men in order to avoid certain violence. Sometimes, it is that. But not tonight. Here we meet an aspiring doctor who is forced, due to the color of his skin, to be a posthumous surgeon. Eyes trawl over his skin, and a monster springs into their nets. His voice shakes, and they presume his guilt. With bold and vulnerable clarity, Russell reveals here that the horror of being a new parent is not in the weight of responsibility, but in the powerlessness that accompanies the limitations of foresight.
View all 4 comments. Apr 04, Renee Godding rated it it was ok Shelves: poetry-and-short-stories. The Unfinished World and Other Stories is a collection of bizarre, slightly surreal short-stories, themed around death, loss and love. It includes a central novella-length story by the same title, as well as a collection of shorter ones that are tonally similar. What I liked about this collection was the authors imagination and the surrealist vibe the collection eminates. Unfortunately, I didn't quite connect with Amber Sparks' stories in the way I did to those of Valente. There were a few that I really enjoyed e.
I can't quite put my finger on why that was: maybe it was the writingstyle, which felt a little plain for the genre of stories. Perhaps I just didn't "get" some of them. They felt like beautiful mental pictures, but I didn't quite get the point behind many of them. This is of cause highly subjective: every reader will find something different in a book, and this is especially true for the surrealist genre. For my experience however, I can't give it more than 2 stars. Oct 13, Ben rated it it was amazing. This is one of the most effortlessly creative works of fiction I've read in a long time.
I don't think I've seen anything quite like Amber Sparks' particular brew of literary sophistication, classic fantasy, and edgy sense of irony. She creates whole impossible worlds in the space of a few sentences, and just when you think you've grasped them, she switches off the lights.
Then, when it's dark, the wolves come out. Many of these stories mix the vocabulary of fantasy -- curses and myths and magic This is one of the most effortlessly creative works of fiction I've read in a long time. Many of these stories mix the vocabulary of fantasy -- curses and myths and magic -- with details that are unmistakably modern. It's a deceptively simple little trick that makes you see the casual brutality and misogyny of some of our cherished fairy tales read a plot summary of Rumplestiltskin, for instance and in turn how little distance there is between those stories and the reality we now inhabit.
I won't spoil them, except to say that both feature heroines who are both unlikely and fierce; they both twist and turn unexpectedly, and they both end with a bang. They are tight, unforgettable stories. You should read them. You should read this whole collection. Amber Sparks is a unique and remarkable talent.
Dec 02, Melody rated it really liked it Shelves: arc , short-stories. These are the kind of short story I love best, the kind where there's just something off about the world.
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There is fantasy lurking on the sides. Like with most short story collections, I obviously had favorites. And usually the weirder the story is, the more likely it is to be one of my favorites. There is just something really compelling about a well-done short sto When the jacket copy of The Unfinished World recommends itself to fans of Kelly Link or Karen Russell, they are right on the money. There is just something really compelling about a well-done short story in this genre.
Review: 'The Unfinished World and Other Stories,' by Amber Sparks
I find the fantastic elements often help a skillful writer explore humanity in a way the real world doesn't always allow. Also, I just like fantastical elements. For the most part, these are very short, succinct short stories. I know, let's describe a short story by saying it's short.
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But really, most of these are probably under 10 pages long. I have a digital ARC so I'm not completely sure how the final page count will turn out in the print version. The eponymous story, "The Unfinished World," is the longest in the collection, and also one of the best. Most of these stories rely on feeling and atmosphere as much as plot.
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And because they're so short, I don't feel like I could set them up without spoiling them in the same way I could for Kelly Link. For some hints, there is a retelling of the Wild Swans. There is a story about a space janitor. There is a story called "The Fever Librarian. Jun 16, Mark rated it really liked it Shelves: story-collection. I am glad I finally got to this story collection, by a smart, fresh young author. She bounces from dystopia, to outer space and back to the every day world. Fans of Kelly Link and Karen Russell will enjoy these stories. Apr 18, Claire rated it really liked it.
As always with short stories, there was some range, but the best ones of these were wonderful. Some of them will stay with me for a long time. Sep 14, Robert Kloss rated it it was amazing. Nov 26, Melissa rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-my-own-damn-books , books-i-should-read-again-later , own. Oh, so good! A story collection that walks the line between reality and fantasy with a good dose of historical fiction.
Review: 'The Unfinished World and Other Stories,' by Amber Sparks - dequsyjeme.ml
But it all seems so fresh and compulsively readable - I read it in two sittings separated only by the length of time it took to cook and eat dinner. Definite recommend. Mar 31, Ann rated it really liked it Shelves: writing-style-lyrical , literary-fiction , short-stories , writing-style-lush , tone-atmospheric , death , tone-haunting. Beautiful, fantastical, otherworldly stories about art, death, and love. The stories in this collection deserve to be savored individually, rather than rushed through. The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks is a very highly recommended collection of 19 short stories set in worlds that are slightly askew.
The writing is excellent. In descriptive, precise prose Sparks manages to convey depth and meaning in the fable-like stories, many of which are very brief. There is no overall theme to the collection, which makes each imaginative selection a gem that stands alone.
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This quietly asks the reader to consider and pondered each selection separately, o The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks is a very highly recommended collection of 19 short stories set in worlds that are slightly askew. This quietly asks the reader to consider and pondered each selection separately, on its own merit. This is a strong collection and I appreciated and savored each selection.
Contents: The Janitor in Space: A woman who works as a janitor in space believes there is there a right way to atone for the past, to rid yourself of sorrow. The Lizzie Borden Jazz Babies: Twins do everything together, until one takes a different course and the other wants revenge. It just goes to show how fairy tales always stop too soon in the telling. Others said it was never a fairy tale at all. Anyone could see that. They were all too lovely, too obviously doomed. The happily-ever-after is just a false front. Lancelot in the Lost Places of the World: "Lancelot has been summoned out of sleep to find a secret kingdom.
Birds with Teeth: Marsh and Cope, who used to be friends, are rival paleontologists. The head is on the tail, he told the team in private. When my wife died, I began to understand this. La Belle de Nuit, La Belle de Jour: There is mythical trouble for seven brothers and their sister when a witch moves into the kingdom and marries their father. The Fires of Western Heaven: Reflections about the aftermath of war.
The Process of Human Decay: What happens after a man dies. The Fever Librarian should wear black bile in the veins. The Fever Librarian should be an unmarried woman with a soft, drowned heart, and a choleric disposition. She should be pale and thin, with a look that hints at Perpetual Anguish of the Soul. The Sleepers: "Ancient dreams cling like crumbs to the mouths of the sleepers. They mutter and twitch, chasing after phantom women, fragments of words, half-drunk goblets of wine. This is what the sleepers find outside of history: a weakness in repose for which there is no cure but dreaming.
Oct 16, Kevin Catalano rated it it was amazing. The world is doing just fine without plot. Louise asks. Why make art at all? Because what else are we going to do? Sparks' stories. Often the problem with story collections -- perhaps the reason they are a difficult sell for big publishers -- is that readers want to get lost in a STORY, they want to live with its characters, rather than invest in pieces that continuously begin and end.
Sparks' The Unfinished World, however, challenges this start-stop experience. To read this collection is to get lost in a singular DREAM, for even though her stories may contain various characters and plots, she writes with a style and mood that tilts our known reality. Sometimes she gives us nightmare, sometimes magic, sometimes the half-awake absurdity -- but always beauty. Fans of Ms. But these pieces take on new meanings when brought together. It's free; follow the link on the page May 26, Alena rated it liked it. Fertile and complex place. Her short stories are incredibly varied and always unexpected.
I often leave her work thinking I should like it, but alas May 16, Audra ouija. She is on another wavelength entirely and it is a strange, brilliant, and wonderful place. The eight stories in this new collection tend toward the speculative—one could say horror-adjacent, even if one were me, and I am, so I did. Do these stories sound strange? Yes, they do. Russell takes simple human situations, like the worries of having a new baby, and layers on a helping of the weird and uncanny: a devil that wants milk and all the mothers know about it, have been there, send in the support group.
It reminds me of Edward Scissorhands—that dark and stormy gothic mansion plopped right down in the middle of white-bread suburbia. Somehow they coexist and no one seems too weirded out about the discrepancy. Accepting the magical realism—the idea that a tree could graft its consciousness onto a girl—is just part of the fun. My thanks to Knopf for sending me this one to read and review. Jun 02, Paige rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. How does she condense so much narrative into each perfectly calibrated, brightly colored story?
I am so in love with this book. May 04, John Decker rated it liked it Shelves: This collection was almost everything I hoped it would be. The first three stories were my favorite, as they were prime examples of her doing what she does best: taking what starts out to appear as normal society and adding more and more weirdness almost to the brink of absurdity and then reeling it back a little. I would recommend this collection to anyone who liked her previous work or someone who is looking to read a little more magical realism. A friend of mine ruined Karen Russell for me by telling me that she liked stories where the edges bend, a notion that captured the fantastical as a metaphor that I liked so much in, for example, in everything from Kafka stories to Her Body and Other Parties.
The problem with Karen Russell, as she pointed out and immediately resonated with me, is the edges do not bend. It is all quite literal. I love just about all of the literal concepts in Orange World and Other Stories--two women visiting ghos A friend of mine ruined Karen Russell for me by telling me that she liked stories where the edges bend, a notion that captured the fantastical as a metaphor that I liked so much in, for example, in everything from Kafka stories to Her Body and Other Parties.
I love just about all of the literal concepts in Orange World and Other Stories--two women visiting ghosts who died building a mountain resort, a woman who merges with a Joshua Tree, a two thousand year old girl pulled from a bog and entering modern life, a doctor who operates on the dead in the underworld, etc. But none of these go a level beyond to raise a profoundly exciting or interesting question, create a sense of mystery, and they also generally lack interesting or multi-dimensional characters.
So while every story in this collection was a perfectly pleasant read, with the exception of "The Tornado Auction" discussed below none of them were outstanding. I should add, I listened to most of the stories on audible and the multiple narrators were fantastic, each one with a voice perfectly adapted to the story he or she was narrating, with The Tornado Auction narrator particularly outstanding which might have contributed to my view on the story itself. On the individual stories: The Prospectors 3 stars : Two girls go up a ski lift, meet a bunch of ghosts.
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Like many ghosts stories, it does keep one's attention. But the concept is not remotely novel and it feels like a step back from the many ghost stories where the edges bend that we've been telling for over a century, see M. The concept of a part human, part plant is more interesting than a bunch of ghosts, and the exploration of what this does to her relationships makes it on the stronger end of character development for this collection. Madame Bovary's Greyhound 2 stars : The parallel stories of Madame Bovary and her greyhound just did not work for me, somehow seemed too silly.
The Tornado Auction 5 stars : I loved this story about an older Texan who returns to raising tornado's after a troubled life trying to maintain this way of life against a family that wanted to modernize and did not fully support him. The concept itself was great and the character's narration of it was pitch perfect.
Black Corfu 3 stars : Another strong concept, a doctor operates on people in the underworld severing their tendons, but the story was only fine. The Gondoliers 4 stars : This one also stood out a little more for me because I liked the post-apocalyptic setting in a toxic flooded Miami with a group of sisters operating gondolas by echolocation.
It was weird and the sister's interior lives were interesting. Orange World 3 stars : A group of women who form a support group to discuss the fact that they've all been breast feeding a devil, if not the devil, was amusing enough--but another one that really just seemed like a joke concept that would have been better off explicitly limited to as such in the manner of Simon Rich. Jun 22, Thekelburrows rated it it was amazing.
Jun 07, Varsha Ravi between. Another wildly inventive, dark collection of stories from a master storyteller that doesn't fail to impress. Touching on a variety of topics ranging from environmentalism, global warming, post-partum depression, first love, and all that's in between, these stories crackle with a fierce imagination and a touch of the other-worldly. Russell tinkers with daily, human and mundane realities, presenting them in outlandish and curiously dark settings, that at once seem both familiar and unfamiliar.
The Another wildly inventive, dark collection of stories from a master storyteller that doesn't fail to impress. There's something slightly off-kilter in her stories, laced with a creepy, malevolent edginess that borders between comic and horror. In Bog-Girl: A Romance, a typical first-love story is turned around on its head when a young boy falls desperately in love with a year-old girl, he finds, preserved in a mass of peat in a Northern European bog. In The Tornado Auction, you follow a retired tornado farmer, risking it all to raise and unleash one last, formidable tornado. In The Gondoliers, you follow 4 sisters who call themselves the Gondoliers, using echolocation to navigate a flooded, submerged Florida.
In Madame Bovary's Greyhound, you follow the relationship between a young, loyal greyhound and his rather fickle-minded mistress.
In the title story, Orange World, a new mother strikes a diabolical deal with the devil in order to protect her newborn son. Karen Russell has an irresistible gift of language, the prowess with which she writes is simply mesmerizing. Some might find her style a little too lyrical and overwritten, but I've always loved it. The sheer decadence of her writing, embellished with all the tiny details that paint the setting with such vivid particularity; reading it is an experience in an of itself.
As is with other collections, some stories were stronger than others and I still feel her first collection St. Lucy's Home was even better. It's safe to say though, with Karen Russell, you can expect the unexpected, a rollicking ride through a feral, untamed, purgatorial space. Feb 07, Delany Holcomb rated it it was amazing. Karen Russell has done it again! She has brilliantly crafted this cocktail of stories that enchant and move the reader in only the way Russell knows how.
For fans of "Vampires in the Lemon Grove", "Orange World" is the collection of tales you've been searching for to satiate your appetite. Each story feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone with genuine heart and feeling, and I am both satisfied by "Orange World" as well as left feeling hungry for more. The strange magic-realism I've come to expect from Karen Russell is in full force in this collection of short stories. The thing I love most about this book is the juxtaposition between the writing style and the subject matter.
Her writing is always dreamy and romantic, as though she is writing about a dazzling royal ball. But the subject matter is often grotesque to the extreme: a room full of men who have been dead for years, a smitten teen carrying around a decomposing body everywhere he goes The strange magic-realism I've come to expect from Karen Russell is in full force in this collection of short stories. But the subject matter is often grotesque to the extreme: a room full of men who have been dead for years, a smitten teen carrying around a decomposing body everywhere he goes, a woman whose body has been commandeered by the spirit of a tree, a dog who runs away and breaks her own leg.
As with Vampires in the Lemon Grove, there are bright images in this book that have stayed with me, and randomly pop into my imagination. I love that about Russell. She knows how to stick with you. I will read anything that Karen Russell writes. You can read this one for free at the New Yorker site. Karen Russell's new story collection is a goddamned delight. Russell writes full novels in the space of a short story.
I held myself back and still marked nearly twenty places as I moved through the stories in Karen Russell's latest collection. I rolled a die to randomly decide how many of my flagged places that I could share with you. The number is two. Sorry, you'll just need to find the other eighteen on your own. His name was Cillian Eddowis, he was fifteen years old, and he was illegally employed by Bos Ardee.
He had celery-green eyes and a stutter that had been corrected at the state's expense; it resurfaced whenever he got nervous. How did Cillian persuade Bos Ardee to hire him? The boy had lyingly laid claim to many qualities: strength, maturity, experience. When that didn't work, he pointed to his bedroom window, a quarter mile away, on the misty periphery of the cutaway bog, where the undrained water still sparkled between the larch trees. The intimation was clear: what the thin, strange boy lacked in muscle power he made up for in proximity to the work site.
But, I'm sticking with the random outcome and only sharing two quotes. Limber, Calypso the Queen. My daughters got quiet names, each one as sweet and forgettable as a sugar cube dropped into a teacup. Anna, Megan, Susan. You see how it goes for the Bambis and the Rainbows in this world; I wanted the girls, unlike my tornadoes, to travel anywhere they chose without causing a stir. I just cheated. Her mother would be here, but she is caring for her own mother on the opposite side of the world, in a hospice facility.