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Get in Trouble: Stories Paperback – February 9, 2016
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“Ridiculously brilliant . . . and entertaining as heck . . . These stories make you laugh while staring into the void. By the end, they’ll be with you sleeping and waking.”—The Boston Globe
“Marvelous . . . As a writer Kelly Link is possessed of many magical powers, but to me what’s most notable about her new collection, Get in Trouble, is its astonishing freedom. . . . Link knows there’s nothing she’s ‘supposed’ to do; her imaginative freedom is unmitigated by a need to counterbalance the weirdness with explanation.”—Meg Wolitzer, NPR
“Smashing . . . sensational . . . Each of these stories presents the reader with the same setup: 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. What matter most in pure storytelling are style and visionary power. If your voice is hypnotic enough, you can make readers follow you anywhere.”—The Washington Post
“When it comes to literary magic, Link is the real deal: clever, surprising, affecting, fluid and funny.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Brilliantly strange . . . With every tale [Link] conjures a different universe, each more captivating than the last. At first glance these realms don’t seem too far from our own, but soon their wild, mysterious corners are illuminated. . . . You’ll long to return the minute you leave. [Grade:] A”—Entertainment Weekly
“Get in Trouble is one of the strongest collections I’ve read recently; each story is finely calibrated, with Link’s surreal but utterly believable logic, suspense, and heart.”—The Paris Review
“Wildly imaginative . . . Link never fusses over the surreal twists in her stories, but they contain so much emotional truth that there’s no need to explain a thing.”—The New York Times
“[Get in Trouble] resonates with depth and maturity, the sense of a writer using genre for her purposes rather than the other way around. . . . The stories here are effective because we believe them—not just their situations but also their hearts. . . . [Kelly Link] has created a series of fully articulated pocket universes, animated by a three-dimensional sense of character, of life.”—Los Angeles Times
“Since her 2001 debut, Stranger Things Happen, no one has surpassed Link at crafting stories like miniature worlds, each one palatial on the inside, honeycombed with alternate realities and alarmingly seductive. . . . A new Link collection is therefore more than just a good excuse for a trip to the bookstore. It’s a zero-gravity vacation in a dust jacket.”—Chicago Tribune
“Magical . . . The stories in Get in Trouble are something like the wonderful stories of Ray Bradbury, whose science fiction transcended the genre. Link’s tales are reminiscent of Neil Gaiman, too, with something dark, feminine, and punk-rock blended in.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Mesmerizing.”—The Seattle Times
“Beautiful, terrible and strange . . . When Link published her first collection, Stranger Things Happen, this sort of fiction, with its playful intersections of the banal and the wondrous, was rare. There’s more of it now, but Link remains the master of a delicate genre.”—Salon
“[Get in Trouble] is a haunted house built with blunt sentences and teeming with dark shadows, sudden shocks, and secret rooms. . . . But fear not: Link is always in control, an emotional realist with a steady hand and a generous heart.”—New York
“Link’s prose and ideas dazzle; so much so that you don’t see the swift elbow to the emotional solar plexus coming until it’s far, far too late.”—The Guardian
“Link has won Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy and Tiptree Awards for her fiction, but no single taxonomic label, such as fantasy, adequately covers what she does. . . . She shows off a wit that would earn her a nod from Dorothy Parker.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“[Get in Trouble] brims with imagination and astonishment—not to mention the indefinable weirdness of being a human being. Every story in Get in Trouble is pure delight, a Big Gulp of beauty and horror and joy. If you aren’t already in love with Kelly Link’s writing, you soon will be. . . . Link is a visionary and a master storyteller, and Get in Trouble is her best book yet.”—BuzzFeed
“Any fan of Karen Russell, Ursula K. Le Guin, and any other smartly written, fantastic stories should not miss out on Kelly Link.”—The Huffington Post
“[Link] crafts a beguiling and eerie blend of fairy tale, fantasy, Ray Bradbury, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s a wonderful mélange of cyborg ghosts, evil twin shadows, Egyptian cotillions, and pixie-distilled moonshine. Guys, she’s really great.”—The Portland Mercury
“Link remains one of the most potent storytellers we have, and Get in Trouble is some of her most playful and intense work yet. It’s a great reminder of not just Link’s unique voice, but also the fact that stories can be more than just nuggets of invention—they can be precious and life-enhancing.”—io9
“Irresistible . . . The best of her stories linger after they end, casting shadows and opening doors to strange new worlds.”—The Columbus Dispatch
“The nine stories in [Get in Trouble] sizzle with surprises. . . . Link is one of a kind.”—BBC
“These stories take a wrecking ball to labels like ‘literary realism,’ ‘science fiction,’ ‘fairytales,’ and ‘magical realism,’ and then build something beautiful, complex, and intricately imaginative from the rubble.”—Bustle
“Each story in Get in Trouble is like a dark ride at an amusement park: you enter with no idea what is going to happen and little opportunity to get your bearings before things start to speed up. You emerge on the other side dizzied, tousled, exhilarated and a little changed.”—Toronto Star
“[Kelly Link] makes realism and fantasy prop each other up and dance, and soon they’re whirling together so quickly that you can't tell the difference between the two.”—The Stranger
“In Link’s masterful hands, even the bizarre seems plausible.”—Marie Claire
“You can never really read a Link story for the second time, much like you can’t step in the same river twice. It’s not just that the stories are fluid, with unexpected eddies and odd new things always floating downstream, but that part of the pleasure of reading a Link story lies in deciding how to read this particular Link story.”—Locus
“Beneath the attention-getting levity of Link’s conceits—ghosts, superheroes, ‘evil twins’—lies a patient, Munrovian attunement to the complexities of human nature.”—The Millions
“Brilliant . . . These short stories are sharp, dangerous and haunting, and say just as much about our modern desire for fantasies as they do about the desires that make us human.”—Refinery29
“Link is seven kinds of brilliant, and then just when you think you have your brain wrapped around all of them, another pops up.”—KQED
“There is no more successful writer at walking the edge of speculation and genre. . . . No one is more gifted at dipping into a darker kind of wonder, an emotion for most readers that sadly belongs to the realm of childhood, than Link is. She bewilders the reader with wonder.”—A. N. Devers, Longreads
“[Link] shows [short fiction’s] ability to compress lifetimes seething with tension and crystallise moments blazing with desire and defiance, into handfuls of taut, finely wrought, pages.”—The Sydney Morning Herald
“The stories in Get in Trouble are as compulsively readable as a trendy YA novel, but have the cultural richness of Angela Carter, the emotional complexity of Alice Munro, and a precise use of language all Link’s own.”—National Post
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Top international reviews
While all nine tales are wickedly spellbinding, the two stories that bookend this collection are especially captivating. In "The Summer People", Fran, the child of a single male parent finds herself left yet again to her own devices when her inexplicably irresponsible father leaves for another expedition while she struggles with a debilitating flu. Everything progresses with the predictability of a teenage high school yarn until the reader encounters the mysterious summer people that she is tasked to take care of, and the logic of Link's fictional universe takes over, layering over the one we take for granted as real.
In a similar fashion, the last story, "Light", begins innocently enough with a scene at a bar and a flirtation between a man and a woman turned sour when the man becomes nasty, and then in an act of sly vengeance, the woman takes out a needle from her sewing kit, finishes her drink, then coolly jabs the man in his buttock with the needle. And soon, a conversation picks up in the next table about pocket universes, and babies born without a shadow, and how "over-the-counter shadows - prosthetics, available in most drugstores, not expensive and reasonably durable", might be the solution, as well as the fact that those with two shadows did not grow up happy. The transition into Link's parallel universe is swift and smooth and by the time the reader follows Lindsey (the aforementioned buttock jabber) home, "a stucco house in a scab-raw development in Dade County", the fact that she had two shadows, one of whom grew to become her twin brother Alan, becomes such a naturally accepted fact, it does not seem in the least fantastic in the way Link tells it.
In the other stories, we meet doll boyfriends who can be turned on and off, in normal or spectral mode as in "The New Boyfriend", as well as a fan who stalks a personality to a hotel holding two separate conventions, one for dentists, and another one for superheroes in "Secret Identity". In a past-as-future speculative tale, "Valley of the Girls", two royal siblings have 'Faces' or decoys who appear in public while they live in their burial chambers in the pyramids, getting ready for the afterlife.
Each of these tales transports the reader to an alternate universe that beguiles and bewilders, and a bit of each lingers with you even after the tale ends.