Apr. 22nd, 2009

starlady: (the last enemy)
Link, Kelly. Pretty Monsters. New York: Viking, 2008.

I'm not going to pretend that this was really a rational impulse, but I finished Kelly Link's short story collection Pretty Monsters Monday night, and it's a long time since I have been so completely enchanted with a book, and I wanted to talk about that.

My library has labeled this book "young adult," which I think has something to do with the fact that it has interior illustrations by Shaun Tan (who is awesome) and that the protagonists of all the stories are older children and...young adults. Um, teenagers? The book was marketed as young adult, or so my perfunctory poking around the Internet informs me, but this is another instance of me thinking genre divisions are dumb. I don't think these stories are unsuitable for adults, and partly that's because one of Link's singular talents is her foregrounding a lot of the bric-a-brac of life that, for other authors, is the central plot or theme or active principle of the piece. In "The Wrong Grave," for instance, the protagonist's girlfriend is dead. That sort of thing has been grist for countless angsty teen novels, but Link writes a story in which the protagonist (an aspiring poet) gets into the resurrectionist business in order to get his poems back. Indeed, adults are missing out if they don't read this book (but then, that's always true of the best young adult fiction).

Yeah. Definitely part of the reason I loved this book so much was the weird mood I was in, one which Link's sometimes creepy authorial tone (though not in every story) matched perfectly. But there's no TV series I would love to watch more than The Library, which is featured in "Magic for Beginners" (which was nominated for a Hugo, among other things, and might be my favorite of the lot. it's hard to pick). And even "The Surfer," which I read first in Strange Horizons and didn't quite care for, went down better this time around (it helped that I read the whole story this time) But anyone who likes fantastic literature should check out this book and/or her previous two collections (one of which is mostly available for free download). Link is brilliant, and quite possibly unique in the truest sense of the term.

Well, hopefully I shall be able to sleep now.

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