She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as the most darkly playful voice in American fiction and by Neil Gaiman as a national treasure. Read more...
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She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as the most darkly playful voice in American fiction and by Neil Gaiman as a national treasure. Now Kelly Link s eagerly awaited new collection her first for adult readers in a decade proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have.
Link has won an ardent following for her ability, with each new short story, to take readers deeply into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed fictional universe. The nine exquisite examples in this collection show her in full command of her formidable powers. In The Summer People, a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In I Can See Right Through You, a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In The New Boyfriend, a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.
Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, "The Wizard of Oz, " superheroes, the Pyramids . . . These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty and the hidden strengths of human beings. In "Get in Trouble, "this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.
Praise for "Get in Trouble"
Ridiculously brilliant . . . These stories make you laugh while staring into the void. "The Boston Globe"
When it comes to literary magic, Link is the real deal: clever, surprising, affecting, fluid and funny. " San Francisco Chronicle"
With every tale Link] conjures a different universe, each more captivating than the last. . . . You ll long to return the minute you leave. Grade: ] A. " Entertainment Weekly"
Marvelous . . . As a writer Kelly Link is possessed of many magical powers, but to me what s most notable about "Get in Trouble"] is its astonishing freedom. Meg Wolitzer, NPR
Sensational . . . Remain in your narrative comfort zone, or venture into Link s uncharted sea of troubles. Come on. Live a little. " O: The Oprah Magazine"
This is art that re-enchants the world. Who needs tediously believable situations, O. Henry endings or even truthfulness to life? Give us magic; give us wonder. " The Washington Post"
The stories here are effective because we believe them not just their situations but also their hearts. " Los Angeles Times"
A zero-gravity vacation in a dust jacket. " Chicago Tribune""
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-09-15
- Reviewer: Staff
These nine stories may begin in familiar territory—a birthday party, a theme park, a bar, a spaceship—but they quickly draw readers into an imaginative, disturbingly ominous world of realistic fantasy and unreal reality. Like Kafka hosting Saturday Night Live, Link mixes humor with existential dread. The first story, entitled "The Summer People," in homage to Shirley Jackson, follows an Appalachian schoolgirl, abandoned by her moonshiner father, as she looks after a summer house occupied by mysterious beings. "I Can See Right Through You" features friends who, in their youth, were movie stars; now in middle age, she is the hostess and he is the guest star of a television show about hunting ghosts at a Florida nudist colony. "Origin Story" takes place in a deserted Land of Oz theme park; "Secret Identity" is set at a hotel where dentists and superheroes attend simultaneous conferences. Only in a Link story would you encounter Mann Man, a superhero with the powers of Thomas Mann, or visit a world with pools overrun by Disney mermaids. Details—a bruise-green sky, a Beretta dotted with Hello Kitty stickers—bring the unimaginable to unnerving life. Each carefully crafted tale forms its own pocket universe, at once ordinary (a teenage girl adores and resents her BFF) and bizarre (...therefore she tries to steal the BFF's robot vampire boyfriend doll). Link's characters, driven by yearning and obsession, not only get in trouble but seek trouble out—to spectacular effect. (Feb.)
Stories from behind the veil
BookPage Fiction Top Pick, February 2015
Kelly Link tends to inspire a range of comparisons to other authors—usually, some blend of Angela Carter and Haruki Murakami—but, in fact, nobody writes stories like hers. Link’s fantastical worlds feel utterly real, partly because they’re intensely matter-of-fact. Her characters are sassy, moody and cool, and they never, ever make any big deal out of the fact that there are monsters, aliens, vampires or ghosts hanging around, or that they might stumble into a pocket universe or some alternate dimension. Mostly they’re concerned with cute guys and flirting and drinks, plus occasionally needing to save the world.
If that sounds light, it’s not meant to. Link, who has written three previous short-story collections and co-edited several anthologies with her husband, Gavin J. Grant, is often hilarious, but her stories still break your heart. The best thing to compare her writing to might be “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” with its perfect combo of dark wit, sex and tragedy. Get in Trouble contains nine stories, which include maybe two happy endings, maybe zero, depending on how you look at them. She’s never been one to wrap things up in tidy fashion.
The tales here range from fairy tales to space opera. Sometimes you’re halfway through before you even know what kind of world you’re in, but that’s OK, because Link guides you so carefully that you’d follow her anywhere. There’s an amateur cyberstalker at a superhero convention who, naturally, gets more than she bargained for (“Secret Identity”). There’s a girl whose job as a caretaker of summer houses is not what it seems (“The Summer People”), a rich far-future playboy who falls for the wrong person (“Valley of the Girls”), a woman driven to distraction by her shadow (“Light”).
As different as these stories are, they all in some way play with expectations. There are surprises on every page. Nothing is what it seems; everything is much more. In short, Kelly Link is magic.