Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

I read a review of this in Salon over the summer, and added it to my list. It's short stories, which (as I've said before) are not my favorite genre. It's also magical realism, which I often love, so I was conflicted. The result is, I read and enjoyed several of the stories, and skipped several others. By all rights I should enter this in my list as half a book, but I won't bother with picky details like that.

The first story in the book, The Faerie Handbag, was wonderful, and reminded me of another magical realism book that I loved, Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card, which is kind of like Sleeping Beauty meets Baba Yaga, with time traveling mixed in. In The Faerie Handbag, a young woman 's grandmother carries the residents of her Eastern European village around in her magical purse, into which they fled to avoid a pogrom and an earthquake. Residents occasionally venture out to see what's going on, but always end up preferring life inside the bag.

My other favorite story was The Hortlak, which was described in detail in the Salon article. I did not enjoy Stone Animals, and skimmed/skipped some of the other, weirder stories (one that seemed to be about a conversation with a cannon?).

If you are bored at work, you can read The Faerie Handbag on Kelly Link's web site. Then get the book if you think you'll like the other stories. Here's a review of Enchantment, if you are interested.

(Book 18, 2006)


Anonymous said...

Becky! This is Spee's sister-in-law Ellen (aka Lisa Hunter's stepsister)...and now aka Online Writing Workshop owner and thus hirer of Kelly Link, author and publisher and editor. Kelly writes a monthly "Editor's Choice" review for our online writing workshop for SF, Fantasy, and Horror. Her stories are weird and often wonderful and her critiquing skills for short speculative fiction are fabulous! Just thought I would add this because it tickled me to think that this is another (tenuous) connection between you and me (who you did meet once on your front steps!).

Becky Holmes said...

One thing I failed to mention in my post was the interesting way that Link uses language. She is very clever, very original, but never contrived. I remember one quote from The Hortlak, describing what the zombies carried into the market: dirty sticks and sticky dirt. I thought this was really wonderful.

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