What’s It About: A family of alligator wrestlers (you still with me?) face bankruptcy and removal from their swampland theme park culture (still with me?) when their lead performer aka mother suddenly dies. There’s also a weird, sexy ghost story, a creeptastic kidnapping, and a great reminder why working in a theme park is the worst job ever.

Why?:It seemed like a wonky, fun book with reflection behind its eccentricities.

Thoughts: This was NOT the type of book I expected it to be. First of all, yea, it’s funny at times. And a bit zany in certain places. But the overall tone of the book is one of absolute desperation, even devastation at times. Adjust expectations wisely.

That having been said, it’s easy to see why the book won its praise. There’s plenty to analyze and discuss: the (necessary?) cultural assimilation of the swampland peoples, a cultural obsession with death and disaster, various traumas masquerading as paranormal activity… It’s all pretty fascinating but also pretty HEAVY. Aka no beach-reads here.

Also a hit-or-miss is Russell’s prose, which sometimes floored me, sometimes bored me. I think it depends what kind of style you prefer.

Overall, I’d recommend a read, but expect to wrestle a gator or two while you’re in there.