One night, children wearing necklaces of garlic bulbs arrived giggling at our door. it was Halloween; they were vampire hunters. The smell of garlic blasted through the mail slot, along with their voices: “Trick or Treat!” In the old days, I would have cowered from these children. I would have run downstairs to barricade myself in my coffin. But that night, I pulled on an undershirt and opened the door. I stood in a square of green light in my boxer shorts hefting a bag of Tootsie Pops, a small victory over the old fear.
"Mister, you okay?"
I blinked down at a little blond child and then saw that my two hands were shaking violently, soundlessly, like old friends wishing not to burden me with their troubles. I dropped the candies into the children’s bags, thinking:
You small mortals don’t realize the power of your stories.” —
Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove
From her short story collection named for the excerpt above. The narrator of the first story in her collection is a vampire, yes, but one that speaks of a life quite unlike the lusty demons we see in Twilight. One that lived a huge deal of his life possessed and immobilized by cliches that in Russell’s short, are simply not true. Blood actually does nothing, holy water gives you a light rash, and the sun is just blinding and makes your eyes water a bit.
Russell is the kind of author whose work I read, I smile and giggle, I think to myself, “shit, I can’t write like this,” and then I cry when this moment happens.