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Stranger Things Happen: Stories Paperback – July 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
The 11 fantasies in this first collection from rising star Link are so quirky and exuberantly imagined that one is easily distracted from their surprisingly serious underpinnings of private pain and emotional estrangement. In "Water Off a Black Dog's Back," a nave young man who has never known personal loss finds that the only way he can curry favor with his lover's physically afflicted family is to suffer a bizarre amputation. The protagonist in "Travels with the Snow Queen" reconsiders her fairy-tale romance when she deconstructs the clichs of traditional fairy tales and realizes that their heroines inevitably sacrifice and suffer much more than their heroes do. Link favors impersonal and potentially off-putting postmodern narrative approaches, but draws readers to the emotional core of her stories through vulnerable but brave characters who cope gamely with all the strangeness the world can throw their way. In the book's most effective tale, "Vanishing Act," a young girl's efforts to magically reunite herself with her distant family by withdrawing from the world around her poignantly calls attention to the spiritual vacancies and absence of affection in the family she stays with. "The Specialist's Hat" features twin sisters whose morbid obsessions seems due as much to their father's parental neglect as their mother's death. Although a few of the selections seem little more than awkward freshman exercises in the absurd, the best shed a warm, weird light on their worlds, illuminating fresh perspectives and fantastic possibilities.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Link offers strange and tantalizing stories--contemporary fiction with a fairy-tale ambience--that explore the relationship between loss and death and the many ways we try to cope with both. She boldly weaves myth and fairy tale into contemporary life, drawing inspiration from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, from the fairy tale of Cinderella, from the writings of C. S. Lewis, and from the true story of the Donner party's descent into cannibalism. Meet Humphrey, one of Zeus' many illegitimate sons, and June, his girlfriend, who decides to travel to Hades to bring Humphrey back. Learn the rules of being dead, and find out what really happened between Kay and the Snow Queen. Ask yourself what would have happened to the prince if he had never found the girl whose foot fit the glass slipper. Link uses the nonsensical to illuminate truth, blurring the distinctions between the mundane and the fantastic to tease out the underlying meanings of modern life. Bonnie Johnston
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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So when you’re going into this story, be warned that there will be times when you’re perplexed. But the payoff is that Link will lead your imagination to places that it’s probably never gone before.
I thought the middle part lagged, and I particularly did not care for Survivor's Ball and Shoe and Marriage. The quality of the stories picked up again at the end, though -- I enjoyed the last two stories in the collection. Overall, the book was enjoyable, I’m glad I read it, and I intend to read more books by the author. And I'm still going to give it five stars, because I think there were enough gems in the collection for the five stars to be well-earned.
Her writing is very visually rich, at least to me. I've found the quirky and fun environments have inspired a few sketches that could become artwork in the future.
Kelly Link's stories are top tier-- fantastical, dark, dangerous and, at the end, sad. Ms. Link's vivid,tactile and visual writing illuminates the terror,pathos and frustrated longing inherent in being human. Ms. Link creates convincing emotionally damaged characters and plops them into dark,sensual,diabolically dangerous worlds. This is very, very powerful stuff by a fabulist at the top of her game.
Quite frankly, I'm in awe.
Thank-you, Ms. Link.