Book by KAREN RUSSELL
Karen Russell’s novel Swamplandia! (based on one of the stories in her collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves) is the mystical coming of age story of Ava Bigtree, a skilled alligator-wrestler at her family’s failing theme park in the Everglades. Setting plays an important role in this book, and made me notice the settings within a setting. Swamplands, swamp flies, buzzards, and a feverish humid mud mash surround the narrative. Since Swamplandia!, the Bigtree’s theme park, is also a family history museum (Ava’s mother’s wedding dress is on display among other exhibits), family is a setting. The conflation of family and place familiarizes the wildlife around the reader (Ava calls all their alligators “Seths”), while also revealing the darkness and wilderness of a family.