A Review of the Short Stories of Kelly Link

Magic for Beginners by Kelly LinkNobody writes cooler stories than Kelly Link.

Link’s stories draw from fairy tales, myth, pop culture, experimental, horror, gothic, and detective fiction, the tabloids, dreams, nightmares, and half a dozen other things. But this is not merely pulp fiction—wham, bam, thrill and chill.

Link uses the tools of pulp fiction to deal with literary concerns: sex, death, love, loneliness, identity, and other existential issues. Despite these angsty undercurrents, her stories have a wry and often raunchy sense of humor.

Written in a lean, stylish prose Link’s stories charm and engage. You feel like you know her narrators, or you want to. As the mundane mingles with fantastic, ease back in your chair and let the stories work their magic. She’s taking you places you’ve never been before. It’s going to be strange; it’s going to be fun; and it’s definitely going to be cool.

Cover of Stranger Things Happen, by Kelly Link, reviewed by Melanie LamagaI first discovered Kelly Link’s stories about six years ago and they absolutely rocked my world, both as a reader and a writer. At the time I had somehow fallen into the (utterly erroneous) assumption that modern American culture had scant interest in work that was both literary and fantastic. When I read Kelly Link, all that changed. I was electrified, for I knew that if a writer this magnificently quirky could be embraced by the literary establishment (and she has been, in a big way), there was hope.

Since then I’ve learned that the reports of the death of the fantastic have been greatly exaggerated, and I’ve read a pile of wonderful stories and novels by contemporary writers making Swiss cheese out of the formerly rigid categories of fantasy, science fiction, horror and literary fiction.

Yes, Virginia, today’s brave new writer can use all of the tools in the toolbox, and the best are doing just that. Who says zombies have no place in literature with a capital L? It’s anarchy, it’s beautiful, and Kelly Link is one of the masters.

Link’s work appears regularly in magazines and anthologies, but she has only three collections, Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, and Pretty Monsters (which is not an entirely new book, but mixes stories from the first two collections with a handful of new ones–aimed at the YA market).

If you love the fantastic in literature and have not already read these books, RUN (or click) as fast as you can, and get yourself Linked. These stories are magically delicious, and entertaining as Hell.

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