Countdown: My 9th Favorite Read This Year Is…

We’re counting down the days left until we run out of time for our Kickstarter project, and we desperately need your support to launch. I’m also counting down my ten favorite reads this year. My 9th favorite book has alligators, swamps, and ghosts. Read on to find out that my 9th favorite read this year was…

Swamplandia!, Karen Russell

Like many readers, I was first seduced by Karen Russell’s delightful imagination with her short stories. A few of the stories from Saint Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, including the titular story, won me over immediately with their fresh funny voice, their lovely human vision, and their stunning prose. Swamplandia, Russell’s novel debut, takes the best of her wonderful short stories and throws it into a wild Floridian brew of haunted swamps, alligator wrestlers, dodgy amusement parks, faked Native American heritage, and tender family drama.

The plot is both complex and simple; a family-run alligator ranch is threatened by bankruptcy by a slick amusement park chain that moves into town, but larger than that, the family threatens to fall apart after losing its center, the mother. Narrated by the youngest daughter, Swamplandia is often hilarious, always fresh, and also unexpectedly dark. I didn’t even think the violence that emerges was fully necessary, but nevertheless, the haunted feeling of Russell’s vividly rendered Florida swamp makes this book feel magical.

Keep reading to find out my 8th favorite book this year, and Donate to our Kickstarter project today!

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