Tag: kelly link

Novella: Magic for Beginners

Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link

Appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 2005 (available on their website via the Wayback Machine); appeared in a collection of the same title (Mariner Books, 2005, and rereleased by Random House in 2014) and also the collection Pretty Monsters (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2006); won the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novella, the 2005 BSFA Award for Short Fiction, and the 2006 Locus Award for Best Novella; nominated for the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2006 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and the 2006 Theodore Sturgeon Award; anthologized in Other Worlds Than These (Night Shade Books, July 2012, edited by John Joseph Adams)

18,231 words

This is one of the few stories in the collection Magic for Beginners that I felt like I understood. The implausible events are anchored to a believable and sympathetic character, and the blurring of the line between story and fictitious TV show is really interesting, as is Jeremy’s quest towards the end.

Publications listed in Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners: Stories

Novelette: “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change”

“The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change,” by Kij Johnson

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales (Viking Press, 2007, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling); anthologized in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: 21st Annual Collection (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008, edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, and Gavin J. Grant); shortlisted for the 2007 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and the 2008 World Fantasy Award—Short Fiction; read for Drabblecast 407, June 4th, 2019

8,583 words

Wittgenstein said, “If a lion could talk, we would not understand him.” This story explores the idea that if a dog could talk, we would not be able to love her. A little tragedy and perhaps an allegory for oppressors’ inability to connect with the oppressed. Or for parents’ inability to let their children be their own people?

Kij Johnson is always thought-provoking.

Novelette: “Stone Animals”

“Stone Animals,” by Kelly Link

Published in Conjunctions: 43, Fall 2004 (order here); collected in Magic For Beginners; anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2005; also appeared here in Electric Literature‘s Recommended Reading, prefaced by Lincoln Michel, February 4th, 2015

16,530 words, 41 pages in BASS

The development of the atmosphere and characters is top notch, but I feel it goes on too long, repeating the same themes over and over without having any kind of cumulative effect (like an obsessive feel, for example), and then it stops inconclusively on the same note. Why isn’t this a 5,000-word short story?

Edited to add that while reading this I kept thinking about the fact that New World rabbits don’t burrow. It’s not really relevant, but I couldn’t help thinking about it.

Short story: “The Specialist’s Hat”

“The Specialist’s Hat,” by Kelly Link

Collected in Pretty Monsters (Canongate Books), which won a Locus Award; the story also won the 1999 World Fantasy Award; read beautifully in Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast

Not sure how many words

This story is so strange I wonder if it originated as a dream. Not the identical twins or their preoccupation with death/Death—those strike me as fairly conventional tropes in horror and the literature of the uncanny. But that hat, which doesn’t look like a hat, and which can mimic any sound … that belongs in the realm of dream. The ending is marvelous, with children’s games and poetry ambiguously bleeding into the real world.

Novelette: “The Faery Handbag”

“The Faery Handbag,” by Kelly Link

Originally published in the anthology The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm (Mythic Fiction #2) (2004, edited by Helen Datlow and Terri Windling), which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology in 2005; posted here on the Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet website; collected in Magic for Beginners

8,088 words

This story reminded me strongly of “You Don’t Even Have a Rabbit”—the conversational tone, like somebody recounting the really weird day they just had, a tone that seems to facilitate the blurring of reality and fantasy.

Short story: “Some Zombie Contingency Plans”

“Some Zombie Contingency Plans,” by Kelly Link

First appeared in Link’s collection Magic for Beginners (July 2005, Small Beer Press and Random House); appeared in John Joseph Adams’ anthology The Living Dead (available from Night Shade Books) and online here; featured in PodCastle episode 120, September 1st, 2010

8,397 words

I really felt for the character, but I wasn’t sure what to make of the ending. I think we have to take it that Soap is too damaged, too unmoored from reality, to ever be trustworthy or sustain a normal human connection again. The last line implies that he took the painting with him (or it followed him), so we know his moments of intimacy with the drunken Carly haven’t saved him or re-anchored him, real though they may have been.

Short story: “You Don’t Even Have a Rabbit”

“You Don’t Even Have a Rabbit,” by Jessy Randall

Appeared in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Issue 31, December 2014

Roughly four pages in this zine, ? words

A fast-moving, clever piece that ends on a wonderfully unsettling note: “She was going to be so rich that she’d be able to buy any emotion she wanted, any time she wanted it.”

Early on in the story, the verb “to say” is invariably replaced by “to be like,” and quotation marks are never used for dialogue. On a reread, I noticed that this convention gets dropped halfway through. Disappointing. Maybe it was just there to underline the characters’ lack of communication? It’s true that the dialogue towards the end is more effective for being spelled out verbatim.