Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Title: Get in Trouble
Author: Kelly Link
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Target Age Group: Adult
My Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Book Description (from inside cover)

She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as "the most darkly playful voice in American fiction" and by Neil Gaiman as "a national treasure." Now Kelly Link's eagerly awaited new collection - her first for adult readers in a decade - proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have.


Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids... These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty - and the hidden strengths - of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.

My Review

What can I say about this book? A collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors. Why do I like her so much? Because she writes amazing stories about people who may be quirky but have real problems deep down, placed in the most surreal, and many times totally unreal, settings. 

One recurring theme in most of these stories has to do with people who are in strained relationships - whether it be with spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, and in one case, a sort of caregiver/client relationship. Another common theme involves people who make rash decisions with harsh consequences and how they try to rise above those decisions. 

These serious problems are set against what are arguably some of the most bizarre backdrops ever imagined in short fiction, and it's the juxtaposition of these two elements that provides much of the dark humor in these stories. 

And, her story ideas are just plain the coolest that I only wish I could've come up with myself. I mean, where else can you read about:

- a jealous girl who tries to steal her best friend's animated doll-like Boyfriend? ("The New Boyfriend")
- a group of space travelers who tell each other ghost stories, and who have their spaceship, who knows a secret ghost story of her own, place the travelers in the stories' settings? ("Two Houses")
- a girl who meets someone on the internet and goes to a secret rendezvous at a hotel that is simultaneously hosting superhero and dentist conventions? ("Secret Identity")
- a girl, caretaker of the mysterious visitors inhabiting the cottage behind her house, who is grooming her replacement? ("The Summer People")

My only reason for not giving this book a 5 out of 5 is because I've read some of the stories before, and a couple of them I don't find to be quite as strong as the others.

My recommendation, in a nutshell: Read these stories. Be amazed at the directions Kelly Link's stories will take you. You're in for a very wild ride.

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