Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Report: Swamplandia

Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries) by Karen Russell is a very good book. It's kind of sad though.

It's pretty bizarre. It's about a quirky family that runs Swamplandia, a decrepit alligator theme park. I guess it's the coming-of-age story of the little girl who narrates. It's really great writing but I sort of hate what happens in the story. Have you read it? I don't want to give away the ending if you haven't read it. I don't know. It's kind of disturbing, partly because it's written so well. I don't think this book report is helping you very much.

I really liked reading it for a book club where I could process and discuss. I'm not sure this is a good one to read just for "pleasure." I was going along following the little girl's perspective and then (SPOILER) I had the most sickening paradigm shift where I realized I'd been taken in by her naivete. It didn't feel good, but it's a feat of writing. Kind of a creepy feat, I suppose. I don't know, man. Read it if you want and tell me what you think.


  1. I agree. If that makes sense. It's so cleverly written, but you feel like a bit of a fool at the end. I loved it for its guts and smartness but I can't think of anyone I would recommend it to.

  2. I think it's a testament to the author's skills that I was so totally swept in the journey, and then, yes, totally heartbroken when I realized what was really happening. I actually yelled, "NO!" and my husband looked at me like I was nuts. The parallel stories of her brother at the theme park and of her sister and ghost were great too.

  3. My husband read this and deemed it too bizarre/offensive for our not-very-edgy book club, so I shall have to read it for pleasure. It awaits on my shelf. I like spoilers, but now I'll be guarded so as not to get taken in.

  4. Hey Kacy,

    Based off your recommendation I'm reading The Book Thief! I just read The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan and I was wondering if you'd ever want to give it a review. On one hand, the book is tremendously well written- I learned some new vocab and you really get a feel for the characters. On the other hand, kind of as you stated above, "I sort of hate what happens in the story." It's all about death and affairs. I wondered what you would think of it. Thanks for being a blogger who loves reading as much as I do!

  5. Yours is the first review of this book I have read, and I have been curious about this book since the first time I heard it mentioned. I think it's interesting that you point out that it seems a little too much like an artificially plumped up short story than a real novel, and that in itself might keep me from reading this one. Thanks for your insightful post.


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