Thursday, October 30, 2008
Kelly LInk's surreal "Pretty Monsters"
I've been a fan of Kelly Link's for quite some time and was quite pleased to see her new YA collection, Pretty Monsters. Including stories published in various publications over the past few years plus the new titles story, this collection should introduce a whole new group of readers to Link's incredibly unusual way of seeing the world. Here's a bit of my review from the current issue of Bookslut:
There are several standouts for me in Pretty Monsters starting with the first story, “The Wrong Grave.” Riffing on the true story of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal, Link references everything from Buffy to Survivor as she writes about Miles Sperry who decided to dig up his dead girlfriend and recover some poems he had melodramatically buried with her (they were the only copies of course). Miles digs up the wrong girl and finds himself instead with “Gloria” who is not at all like the dead Bethany and not interested in Miles's reasons for disturbing her peace. Gloria has been a bit bored it seems and Miles becomes her new diversion -- no matter how hard he tries to get away. It seems a cliché to say the ending is a shocker, but it is and it is splendid and Gloria is pretty much my new ghost hero.
“The Specialist’s Hat” has gained a lot of attention for its spin on babysitters with bedtime stories and still manages to creep me out every single time I read it. (Knowing what will happen next in this one does not diminish it -- if anything the tension builds even more in anticipation of the final page.) “Magic for Beginners” defies expectations and assumptions every step of the way as it follows teenage fans of an unscheduled unexplainable television show who group together to discuss its every twist and turn. The fact that the story’s plot also involves a phone booth bequeathed to the main character and a love triangle (or more) makes it both odd and typical. This is coming-of-age of the decidedly Addams Familyesque kind but crossed as well with a healthy dose of X-Files paranoia. Smart and snappy, “Magic for Beginners” is one of my all-time favorite short stories.
If you are a fan of stories with a twist then you need to read Kelly Link. She's in a class of her own and offers a startling new way to both write and enjoy a good story.