Sleep Donation

Sleep Donation - A novella by Karen Russel (who wrote the amazing, goose-bumping Swamplandia! and St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised by Wolves) is only available in ebook form as far as I know. I've always been a fan fan of hers, so I swept this up as soon as I saw it on the New Releases page on my Kindle. If you've never experienced a Karen Russel story yet, you should know what you're in for. One word - Surreal. Her literary fiction is so not for everyone. I really enjoy her style and crafting of plot, but I know it might well be disturbing and unsettling to some people. Take Swamplandia! for example. It was magical - like a children's birthday magic show - campy and fun make-believe at first, until suddenly Russel pulls back the curtain, shows us her bag of tricks, reveals the ugly and brutal truth. This to me speaks volumes about her ability as a writer. She's picked the right business to go into.
I enjoy Russel's stories because I can understand why they were born. I can see how, in this story for instance, wondering about what it might be like if you physically couldn't sleep. (Though, I suppose if you're an actual insomniac you might know something about this - I, most resoundingly, am not.) I can understand being curious about it's extended toll on your health. (It reminded me of something I read as a child about Napoleon having refused to sleep a full night for a long stretch of time - only to succumb after resulting poor health.) I can definitely see how insomnia seems to be more common now, one might wonder what it might be like if it had reached epidemic status. So yes. I can understand the underlying structure of thought. It does make for an enticing fictional back-drop.

As excited as I was to read this novella, it didn't have the same spark that my beloved Swamplandia! had, but honestly I'm okay with that. What can you expect from a straight-to-ebook novella, after-all? But it wasn't bad. No, nothing that sends me straight to my dictionary is bad. She had verses that had me swooning - the concept was so interesting. But the personal drama of Trish Edgewater I found less than engaging. She wasn't a very interesting lead, though her development towards the end may have resolved those issues.
I guess in conclusion, while an interesting concept, I can't help but compare it to Swamplandia! (which is one of my all time favorite books) and it doesn't compare story wise. Or if so, it's too subtle for me to see it.

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