Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, August 2, 2014

"The Bad Graft" by Karen Russell (June 9, 2014, The New Yorker)

Karen Russell (Miami, 1981) is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker.  She is one of the true stars of the American short story world.  (I have read and posted on five of her short stories before today and there background information on her in those posts.) I was very glad to find two of her short stories in the Archives of The New Yorker.

My main purposes  in this post are to let other fans of her work know they can read this story online and to keep a record of my reading.  

As the story opens a young couple are in a desert in The Joshua Tree National Park in California. The trees can live to well over 1000 years and were believed by many in the past to have the ability to bond with a human.

The couple are in love and are kind of on an escapist road trip.  The woman steps on a thorn from the Joshua Tree and the tree somehow bonds with her, begins to cohabit her body.  Of course she may be experiencing psychosis of some sort.  They run out of money and rent a shack in the desert.  The man gets a job.  More and more the Joshua tree feels in revolt to its host. 

I love this description of what happens:

"When the Leap occurs, Angie does not register any change whatsoever. She has no idea what has just added its store of life to hers.
But other creatures of the desert do seem to apprehend what is happening. Through the crosshairs of its huge pupils, a tarantula watches Angie’s skin drink in the danger: the pollen from the Joshua mixes with the red blood on her finger. On a fuchsia ledge of limestone, a dozen lizards witness the Leap. They shut their gluey eyes as one, sealing their lucent bodies from contagion, inter-kingdom corruption.
During a season of wild ferment, a kind of atmospheric accident can occur: the extraordinary moisture stored in the mind of a passing animal or hiker can compel the spirit of a Joshua to Leap through its own membranes. The change is metaphysical: the tree’s spirit is absorbed into the migrating consciousness, where it lives on, intertwined with its host."
This is a very good story, a delight to read.  
Available until around October 1, 2014.
Mel u

1 comment:

Laura Kozy Lanik said...

Hey Mel, thanks for the tip on Karen Russell and her New Yorker stories. I recently read a novella ebook by her called Sleep Donation. Very good. She has an awesome imagination and is a great writer. Have you read it?