Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Magic for Beginners" Kelly Link

Must have read a review or something, I don't remember where. It was on order at the library forever. For months and months.They ordered eight copies, I was 9th of 11 when it eventually arrived.

It's short stories. I hadn't read any stories by her before (I don't read whatever magazines short stories are published in) so it was all new.

I loved "Stone Animals", which has one of the best openings I've ever read. I was happy to see it on someone's top-10 list of opening lines, I forget where. "Some Zombie Contingency Plans" had a fabulous ending. I loved "The Hortlak", though I had to go online to find out what the title meant just now (maybe when I go home later I'll check and see if it ever turns up in the story in the phrases that I mostly skipped over). Reading it while listening to Joanna Newsom was extremely disturbing.

Not so much "The Great Divorce" and "The Cannon".

And then I lost the book, I think at a band concert at Mel Lastman Square back in July. This was doubly lame because there's a library at Mel Lastman Square, so if someone had come across it, they could have just stuck it in the book return slot. Anyway, so that happened with two stories left, one of them the title story. So, after a sufficient mourning period, and after paying for the book, I requested it again so I could finish it.

I loved the title story. There was a line in it that that I sort of stole to explian myself to people: "Amy wasn't that much stupider than everybody else, it's just that she thought out loud." I'm writing that from memory, but I think the nuance is there.

The last story, "Lull", is a whole bunch of stories within stories, and they all wrap up within about three pages. This amused me, but it might not amuse other people who don't write short stories. Like, I explained it to Ed and he thought it sounded stupid. Which led me to wonder if perhaps the only people who read short stories are people who write. I rather like reading short stories, but the thing is, if you have a collection of short stories, you have to come up with ten endings, whereas someone who writes novels only has to write one. And endings seem to be the hardest part of a story to write for most people. So especially those 12-book "fat fantasy" series that I read sometimes are a bit of a cop-out, because you never have to write an ending anyway, and then you die (not that I'm thinking about anyone in particular...)

I liked this book, I liked it a lot. A lot of people might not have the patience for the unexplained self-contained worlds the stories take place in, but if you just go with it, well, for me these stories were like really good chocolate.

There's a Kelly Link story online right now here:

http://www.tinhouse.com/mag/issue_current/current_feature.htm

It's not in the book. I don't know how long the link will work.

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