Karen Russell, “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979″

Vampires-in-the-Lemon-Grove-karen-russelNal’s older brother is dating his crush, but the kid knows where the seagulls hide their secret stash.

(from Vampires in the Lemon Grove)

The gulls landed in Athertown on July 11, 1979. Clouds of them, in numbers unseen since the ornithologists began keeping records of such things. Scientists all over the country hypothesized about erratic weather patterns and redirected migratory routes. At first sullen Nal barely noticed them. Lost in his thoughts, he dribbled his basketball up the boardwalk, right past the hundreds of gulls on Strong Beach, gulls grouped so thickly that from a distance they looked like snowbanks. Their bodies capped the dunes.

I wanted this story to go on. It wasn’t a tightly spooled story like Russell so often delivers, not that she likes to wrap everything up nice and neat. But it was looser and stranger. I would have liked to spend more time in this small, cold beach town, with these rudderless kids. None of which is to say that its lovely, joyous final moments weren’t a fine place to end it. Anyway, read this story and try to tell me there aren’t times when stealing feels like exactly what the universe wants you to do.

For some reason you can read the story here.

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