As I’ve written about, I’m working my way through Granta’s Best Young American Novelists 2, albeit very slowly. I’ve been so busy the past two weeks (and also so sleep deprived) that I’ve been lucky if I’ve been able to read one short story or New Yorker article a day.
In any case, I was pleased to discover Karen Russell’s story: “The Barn at the End of Our Term,” in the Granta collection — pleased because I love reading a writer whose work I have not read before and finding that I like said work.
At least so far, anyway. “The Barn at the End of Our Term” is an unusual, offbeat story (former presidents existing in the bodies of horses after their deaths) but one that worked, somehow, for me. I’ve been disappointed by the ho-hum nature of a lot of stories I’ve read recently, stories that even as I read them had me thinking, haven’t I read this before? This story definitely did not make me think that.
What’s impressive — or annoying, depending on your writerly jealousy/bitterness levels — is that Russell is only 25.
This, I’m sure, makes some people mad, and the fact that she had not actually published a novel when this Granta collection was published probably makes some people even madder. But if it has, I can’t find those people on the Internet. The reviews of this story, and her debut collection of stories are overwhelmingly positive … or at least grudgingly approving.
(Although I did find one lit blogger who declared “The Barn at the End of our Term” bizarre and said that at this point in the collection “we seem to have hit a bit of a rough patch.” )
Well, I’m just happy to have discovered a writer who is doing something a little different. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.”
It comes out in paperback in August.
You can read an excerpt from “The Barn at the End of Our Term” here.