Swamplandia! (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Feb 1, 2011 - Fiction - 336 pages
3 Reviews
A New York Times Top 10 Book of 2011

Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.
  

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There is a line between dark humor and tastelessness.
Before I read the rape scene I would have happily given this book 3/5. Everything goes from bad to worse and spoiler: no ending. The family is
seemingly reunited yet still in debt and most likely going to lose their home. Everything ventured, nothing gained.
Yes the book is humorous and interesting, but it has far too many digressions that have nothing to do with the main story.
Kiwi Bigtree (18) is the most interesting and believable character, but gets less than a third of the book. 12/13 year old Ava, who is supposed to be relatively uneducated (save for a convenient library boat and previous correspondence school lessons), has an immense vocabulary and frequently thinks in poetic monologues. While she is being raped and in pain, she remarks on how her sexual experience is real unlike her sister's pretended orgies with ghosts in their bedroom.
As someone with a human rights background, I find it inexcusable for an author to just throw in an unnecessary-to-the-plot rape scene just to bring the female character into an "awakened stage." Truly tasteless.
 

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Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
23
Section 3
42
Section 4
53
Section 5
67
Section 6
78
Section 7
95
Section 8
120
Section 14
225
Section 15
236
Section 16
260
Section 17
291
Section 18
311
Section 19
327
Section 20
343
Section 21
356

Section 9
125
Section 10
171
Section 11
183
Section 12
203
Section 13
213
Section 22
369
Section 23
380
Section 24
398
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Karen Russell, a native of Miami, has been featured in The New Yorker’s debut fiction issue and on The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, and was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. In 2009, she received the 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation. Three of her short stories have been selected for the Best American Short Stories volumes. She is currently writer-in-residence at Bard College.


From the Hardcover edition.

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