‘Orange World’ by Karen Russell – Vivid Peculiar Situations

‘Orange World’, stories by Karen Russell (2019) – 266 pages

Each story in ‘Orange World’ has a supernatural element which drives the story. In ‘The Prospectors’, two young venturesome women visiting a ski resort are entertained by a group of twenty-five men who were buried in an avalanche when the Evergreen Lodge was first being built. In ‘Bog Girl: A Romance’, a teenage boy falls in love with a girl who was murdered two thousand years ago and whose body was preserved in a peat bog. In ‘The Tornado Auction’, customers buy and sell tornadoes for their own enjoyment and fun. ‘In ‘Orange World’ a woman makes a deal with a porcupine-looking devil in hopes of keeping her baby healthy. And so on. Each story has its ghostly or fantastical premise.

The stories of course require a suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Through the clever use of metaphors, similes, and other literary devices, Karen Russell makes each of these stories almost believable to the point where we readers withhold our skepticism. The author puts us inside the persons who are experiencing these strange things. These situations are vivid and entertaining throughout. There is also quite a lot of comedy and humor as the characters in these stories react to their strange unusual circumstances.

I mentioned Russell’s use of simile, and this is a tried-and-true literary method that she uses effectively throughout. When the aforementioned young women look out the window of the ski lodge, they see the face of one of the ghost men who inhabit the place.

His wild eyes were like bees trapped on the wrong side of a window, bouncing along the glass.”

In each story Russell builds a complete fascinating imagined world where this strange event might actually happen.. The stories are long, usually 30 or 40 pages,

Usually in story collections there are stories near the end that don’t quite measure up to the early stories, but in ‘Orange World’ there is not a weak story among the eight. I see Karen Russell as a writer who has learned to use the proven literary techniques so effectively that the reader willingly enters the world of each story no matter how off-kilter it happens to be. Karen Russell is one of the most effective, imaginative, and entertaining writers of today.

Grade:    A


4 responses to this post.

  1. Sounds intriguing. Will add to my ever-growing list of Books I Want to Read.



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