~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


Kelly Link ~ Thursday, December 21, 2006

Speaking of short stories (see below), here's a writer whose work makes me feel like a rank amateur. Just amazing stuff.

I've got her book Stranger Things Happen out from the library. It's also available for free download from her publisher's website. If you have the time and the interest, I recommend it highly. I'm actually going to buy a copy (wow), which I'm sure happens often enough after the free download--and it's not even a completely altruistic move of good faith (they're letting me download it so I'll ante up).

It's actually a helluva an amazing book (haven't finished it yet--I'm only a couple of stories in--but I'm already convinced) and so I want to have a copy of my own that I can take with me places and read at my convenience without a computer. I've even bought her second book (all that was in at the bookstore).

So, it's a short story anthology. I'm not usually a big short story person, but some of these images from the first stories I read are already haunting me. It's slipstream or surreal or what have you so if that's not your bag, maybe these stories wouldn't work for you. But wow--do they ever resonate for me. It's her amazing ability to imply. And her astonishing way of bringing together disparate elements in a fascinating and totally functional way, then adding in an element of chaos that keeps you on your toes, but works within the dream-logic of the narrative, so there's never (not so far anyway) any sense of deus ex-machina or some "out of left field" twist.

I think the last time I discovered a short story anthology that so fascinated and enchanted me was with Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber and Black Venus. These are similar in that they are original, packed with vibrant, bold imagery and possessed of a unique voice. But otherwise, they are quite different in style, density and so on. I'd say Kelly Link is masterful at implication.

There's also a wonderful specificity of evocation. Two examples: "Eight Chimneys is as big as a castle, but dustier and darker than Samantha imagines a castle would be. There are more sofas, more china shepherdesses with chipped fingers, fewer suits of armor. No moat."

And: "Mr. Coeslak can tell the twins apart, even if their father can't; Claire's eyes are grey, like a cat's fur, he says, but Samatha's are gray like the ocean when it has been raining."

But ultimately, it's her way of connecting elements of the story implicitly, so they seem to resonate or make sense at a level that isn't quite articulated, which is most fascinating to me. If downloading the whole book seems too much commitment, she also has a short story (more urban fantasy, whereas the first book seems more informed by surrealism) from her latest collection up on her website.

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 10:16 AM::::


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