The Kelly Link Blog

Magic for BeginnersI just finished Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners yesterday. I read her collection, Stranger Things Happen a year or so ago and wasn’t so blown away as everyone else was. So when I purchased MFB at Readercon I approached it with some skepticism. Well, my fears were completely unfounded. MFB is a wonderful piece of work, and I can now see why Link’s work has made it into the The Best American Short Stories. While not grounded in any reality you know like typical genre fiction, Link’s work bounces from one reality to the next seemingly at first without care or cause, but ultimately always with a purpose. My favorite story in the collection is “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” or “Magic for Beginners.” The former I think was her only story in the collection that might not have been “interstitial.” A male felon crashes a party and keeps asking the host what she will do if zombies show up. The latter was wonderful to read (I really want to see a TV show now called the Library), but the ending fell a little flat for me which is why I’m not sure it reached my number one. “Stone Animals,” scheduled for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories, was also a great read. “Catskin,” the story about a dead witch and her living, naive son’s journey of revenge, is actually quite moving in an odd way. And that’s what Link is able to do so well, to take realities that are only familiar to us in dreams or fantasies, and endow them with powerful emotions. Link seems to be infatuated with dead people and zombies, but this is perhaps because her work (and thus her imagination) is so full of life, and compared to that, most things around her, people included, may seem zombified, or worse, dead. Not only did her collection recently debut, but her story the “Great Divorce” is currently out in One Story and “Magic for Beginners” is in this months Fantasy & Science Fiction. She happens to be super sweet in real life as well.