January Book Club Pick: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Well, we haven't exactly started 2021 on the best foot. And how could we be expected to? As January 1 approached, I saw endless Instagram posts rife with excitement at inevitable sweeping change to come as the clock struck midnight, like Cinderella's coach turning back into a pumpkin. It was as if all the natural disasters, political and social instability and general shittiness of 2020 would just evaporate - Bibiddi bobbidi boo! - making way for a fresh, clean new year.


While I would absolutely love it if life was as magical as a Rogers and Hammerstein musical, unfortunately, as we all know, it is not. 2021 is here, and it's already giving us a run for our strength, our resolve, and our will to keep fighting for justice. I do not want to begin our new year in the spirit of doom and gloom, however. I'm very hopeful about the next 300-some days to come. We've seen how fearless organizers can bring together millions of people, rallying behind social justice, environmental, and political initiatives. We've seen how peaceful protest can change the world, even if that change is slow. And we've made it this far. I mean, if we can get through 2020, we can get through anything.


I can't emphasize enough what an escape books were for me in 2020. I anticipate that being the case this year too, so I'm excited to get reading! Our first book club pick for 2021 comes Pulitzer Prize finalist Karen Russell. Her 2013 collection of short stories, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, delves into the fantastical and the supernatural. From the publisher:


Within these pages, a community of girls held captive in a Japanese silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms and plot revolution; a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow that bears an uncanny resemblance to a missing classmate that they used to torment; a family’s disastrous quest for land in the American West has grave consequences; and in the marvelous title story, two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try to slake their thirst for blood and come to terms with their immortal relationship.

I haven't read anything from Ms. Russell but quite a few of our Literally.PDX book club members rave about her writing, and based on the critical acclaim her books have received, I'm certainly looking forward to this one.


Wishing you a 2021 that is filled with joy, purpose, light, and great books!

-Emily


*Cover image from NPR.