In Orange World and Other Stories, Russell’s third short-story collection and fifth book, nature and humankind find themselves many mistakes removed from their first chance meeting. She has impeccable command of her form. A story too strong for its container: "The Tornado Auction" by Karen Russell. Reviewers, novelists, and Russell herself have credited the strange frequencies passing through her stories to the writer’s supposedly weird home state. There’s a solid argument to be made that Florida is our most surreal state. In “The Bad Graft,” a park ranger believes that the “tremendous blossoming” of Joshua trees across the Southwest is “the ancient species’ Hail Mary pass.” Even “Black Corfu,” which takes place in 1620, carries the ineluctable dread of a civilization threatened by a world that can do without it. What’s most unusual about Russell’s work is how paradoxically comforting it is, particularly right now, when it takes no great leap of the imagination to picture a world, orange or otherwise, without our species. His family accepts her as a silent presence on the living room sofa, keeping the boy company while he watches TV. In “The Tornado Auction,” Robert Wurman, a 73-year-old retired Nebraska tornado farmer, arrived at a tornado auction (an auction where “artificially bred, artificially maintained” (117) tornadoes were sold to the farmers that raised them). A May-December relationship that was probably doomed from the start, the romance between. Karen Russell. His schoolmates let her sit with the popular girls, a horribly still figure with an enigmatic smile, closed eyes and a well-preserved noose around her neck. He took the storm home and put it in his defunct barn, checking to make sure all of his tornado-tending apparatuses were working properly. But I hadn’t guessed you could go deaf even to a sound’s howling absence. Russell brings plenty of surface-level absurdity to Orange World. All extinction fears are local, after all. You know, there was never any money in it, even back then. In “Bog Girl: A Romance,” a 15-year-old boy on a remote Irish island unearths the eerily preserved corpse of an Iron Age murder victim in a peat bog, a girl of about his own age who perished some 2,000 years ago. It isn’t the only American state with deranging humidity levels and primordial swamps populated by giant predatory reptiles, but of all 50 states Florida arguably does the best impression of a fever dream. Karen Russell’s comedic genius and mesmerizing talent for creating outlandish predicaments that uncannily mirror our inner in lives is on full display in these … Whereas Russell’s previous collections treated these worries with doses of myth and magical realism, in Orange World, Russell is fully awake to the nightmarish side of her imagination. This Study Guide consists of approximately 52 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Orange World … This is not misanthropy or defeatism. Reserved. Her only novel to date, 2011’s haunting and critically acclaimed “Swamplandia!,” was divided between the natural and the artificial, the action set in a Floridian swamp and in an enormous, fully enclosed theme park nearby. ORANGE WORLD And Other Stories By Karen Russell. “One of the extraordinary adaptive powers of our species,” Karen Russell writes in her new collection of stories, “is its ability to transmute a stray encounter into a first chapter.” A stray encounter, she describes, could involve the meeting of a 22-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman in a Pennsylvania bar and, soon after, the sudden decision to quit their jobs, rent a car, and drive to the Mojave Desert in California. But as clever as all this may be, Russell has weighted the characters in Orange World with personal crises that—to them—can seem as monumental as global ones. This is no small thing. everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Orange World and Other Stories. In “Bog Girl: A Romance,” its title alone suggesting Night Shift–era Stephen King, a teenager drives a peat harvester through Northern European bogs while wondering how “he could feel so perfectly indifferent to the [clean-energy] debate, even seated in the cab of the world-killing machine. In “The Prospectors,” two young women struggling to survive in Depression-era Oregon find themselves trapped on a mountain in the company of ghosts, a group of men who are either unaware or unwilling to acknowledge that they’re dead. A woman strikes a bargain to breastfeed the devil to protect her unborn son. If you’ve ever endured a certain kind of bad date, this will resonate. When Rae attends a support group for new mothers, she struggles to find a way to tell them what’s wrong: “‘I’m having a hard time with night feedings,’ Rae finally says.”), The anxieties of our age pervade Russell’s book. While a novel might sprawl off in any number of directions, short stories tend to be more schematic, by virtue of their tightly controlled brevity. In the spectacularly gothic “Black Corfu,” the undead are walking the earth on the islands of the Dalmatian coast, but the story’s real monsters are racism and unfounded rumors. I. These are just a few of the brilliantly inventive premises of Karen Russell’s wonderful new collection of short stories. “The Tornado Auction” really does feature a tornado auction. She said in the same interview that while her work was influenced by magic realism, “the primary influence was just South Florida.”. “In retrospect,” Russell told The Chicago Tribune in 2014, reflecting on the landscape of her upbringing, “there’s a way in South Florida in which the natural and the artificial are just endlessly mixed up together.” Which is actually a reasonable description of fiction as well, with its mix of artifice and realism. “The Tornado Auction” is only one of several stories in “Orange World” that veer away from an ending that seems all but inevitable — because in Russell’s short stories nothing is inevitable. Florida loomed large in Russell’s earliest work. He buys a storm on a whim, takes it home and finds himself overcome with joy in the roar of its winds: “But that sound spiraling out, I’d forgotten how a roar like that can fill you up entirely. Love at First Sight and Other Disasters: Stories From Karen Russell, Karen Russell, author of the story collection “Orange World.”, “St. The ghosts are lying to themselves, but we all do that, don’t we? Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,”. “The Tornado Auction” really does feature a tornado auction. The story’s premise is outlandish, but its revelation is not: It turns out he was only in love with the idea of the girl, so long as she remained a blank slate on which he could project his fantasies, as long as she had nothing to say. AT THE SALE BARN. Her characters tend to behave as if they’re not sure whether they belong to nature or it belongs to them, and when they do land on the correct answer, it’s usually much too late. The book’s title story involves a new mother, Rae, who makes a deal with the Devil — if she agrees to breast-feed him every night, he’ll keep her baby safe from harm — but while the specifics of her situation are unique, her terror at the possibility of something happening to her baby will be familiar to any parent. Russell excels at a kind of creeping, low-level horror. Wurman then recalled the birth of his first daughter (of three), and how he had always felt a paralyzing fear that something... (read more from the The Tornado Auction Summary), Get Orange World and Other Stories from Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” seemed to be set there, although the locations weren’t always named. Aside from their fantastical elements, these stories are united by Russell’s willingness to engage deeply with darkness and by her penchant for unexpected endings. “One by one they died,” he says, “my mother, my father, my brothers, my bosses, my rivals, my storms, my wife, and turned my world into an afterlife.”. Once in a while, a story will try to give you clues about how to approach it embedded in the story itself. I’d been fully retired for nearly fifteen years when I decided, on a whim, to return to the sale barn. Karen Russell titles her darkly funny fairy tale “The Bad Graft” because what follows is a doomed romance, with the tree forever tugging at Angie to return to the desert. That Russell embodies this threat in 17th-century Croatian zombies and reinvigorates the exhausted walking-dead genre —“posthumous surgeons” sever the hamstrings of corpses to keep them in their graves—is yet another measure of her gifts. By the end, the lie that sustains them seems no worse than the lie that the narrator has been telling herself about her relationship with her friend. All Rights Those stories that don’t name the crisis are still haunted by it. Fifteen years after his retirement from the tornado-making business, Wurman — in his 70s, a widower not especially close to his grown daughters — finds himself driving almost on autopilot to the tornado sale barn. The farmer in “The Tornado Auction,” meanwhile, is at odds with his disapproving daughters and mourning just about everyone he’s ever known. But one of the great pleasures of reading an author’s body of work lies in observing the progression of her skills and sensibilities, and in “Orange World” the strangeness is never forced, the surrealism always grounded in recognizable emotion and experience. This Study Guide consists of approximately 52 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - A May-December relationship that was probably doomed from the start, the romance between Homo sapiens and whatever life force connects all species on Earth has soured, their differences enormous, their protracted breakup violent. While Russell’s talent has always been obvious, in her earlier books she occasionally slipped into a territory that felt perilously close to weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Copyright (c) 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. Wurman, who came to the auction on a whim, was overtaken with desire for one of the tornadoes, and bid on it, despite his friend's protests. Orange World and Other Stories - The Tornado Auction Summary & Analysis. Russell is scared, too, but her new book stands as a reminder that worrying about the future and grieving it are not the same thing. “Madame Bovary’s Greyhound” affords … It’s love at first sight. All they want to do is party. As she has done since debuting her 2006 collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Russell is playing to anxieties about humanity’s place in the natural world. What follows is a period of collective madness on the island, as he begins hauling the corpse around town and presenting her as his girlfriend. “The Tornado Auction” is only one of several stories in “Orange World” that veer away from an ending that seems all but inevitable — because in Russell… Read: Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’ says what other nature series have omitted, Born and raised in Miami, the author explicitly addresses climate change in only a handful of Orange World’s stories, most notably “The Gondoliers,” set in a near-future South Florida that is all but entirely underwater.

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