Get in Trouble

Kelly Link. Random, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8041-7968-3
These nine stories may begin in familiar territory—a birthday party, a theme park, a bar, a spaceship—but they quickly draw readers into an imaginative, disturbingly ominous world of realistic fantasy and unreal reality. Like Kafka hosting Saturday Night Live, Link mixes humor with existential dread. The first story, entitled "The Summer People," in homage to Shirley Jackson, follows an Appalachian schoolgirl, abandoned by her moonshiner father, as she looks after a summer house occupied by mysterious beings. "I Can See Right Through You" features friends who, in their youth, were movie stars; now in middle age, she is the hostess and he is the guest star of a television show about hunting ghosts at a Florida nudist colony. "Origin Story" takes place in a deserted Land of Oz theme park; "Secret Identity" is set at a hotel where dentists and superheroes attend simultaneous conferences. Only in a Link story would you encounter Mann Man, a superhero with the powers of Thomas Mann, or visit a world with pools overrun by Disney mermaids. Details—a bruise-green sky, a Beretta dotted with Hello Kitty stickers—bring the unimaginable to unnerving life. Each carefully crafted tale forms its own pocket universe, at once ordinary (a teenage girl adores and resents her BFF) and bizarre (...therefore she tries to steal the BFF's robot vampire boyfriend doll). Link's characters, driven by yearning and obsession, not only get in trouble but seek trouble out—to spectacular effect. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 09/15/2014
Release date: 02/10/2015
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-8129-8649-5
Ebook - 175 pages - 978-0-8041-7971-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-39954-7
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