Kelly Link’s super power is her imagination! Superheroes, iguanas, disappearing nudists, pyramids, mysterious neighbors, life-sized Ken dolls, ghost stories in space, video porn, The Wizard of Oz (!?) and the possibility of hurricane sex, are just some of the wonderful surprises in this book of short stories.
Each of the nine stories was fabulous in its own right; each fantastically different from the other. This review is for the book in its entirety and the author’s ability to make the reader want to keep reading, so I will only tell you a bit about my three favorites.
(The opening story) The Summer People was, for me, the perfect introduction to Kelly Link’s storytelling. It had a Brothers Grimm-like, fairy-tale feeling. You know that the place on the other side of the bridge looks magical and beautiful and wonderful; but, will you want to stay there? Will it let you leave?
The New Boyfriend is a story about bestest, oldest friends: Ainslie, who is lovely and kind and loves her friends equally, and Immy, who loves Ainslie best (but also hates her best.) Immy feels inferior and covets Ainslie’s toys; mostly her collectible life-size Boyfriends, who are programmed to talk, respond, dance, hug, etc. Immy wants a Boyfriend and Ainslie now has three: Vampire Boyfriend, Werewolf Boyfriend (with interchangeable heads) and Ghost Boyfriend. Ghost Boyfriend has been “recalled” but, somehow, Ainslie gets him for her birthday. It’s just not fair! But that’s about to change. Immy knows that the Ghost Boyfriend and she are destined to be together.
And I do believe she saved the best for last! Light takes place in Florida: A place where mermaids are an invasive species. Retirees have left for pocket universes that are even-more-Florida-than-Florida. The remaining Florida citizens are out-of-towners: new colors of people from other pocket universes who usually get along, special people who cast two shadows who can develop a twin and, some who cast no shadow at all. This story is an absolute treasure! We spend a week with Lindsey, her iguanas, the men in her life (including her twin,) her responsibility for her job, and the somewhat extraordinary routine of her life.
These are all previously published in magazines and on-line, but I had never before read anything by Kelly Link. Her fantasies skirt so closely to reality, that I am now hooked by her weirdly wonderful storytelling. Her characters are dark, smart, and devious and get what they want and need in ways that kept me riveted. There are surprises around every corner and, in none of these stories could I guess where each unforgettable (and sometimes uncomfortable) trip was going until we reached the final destination. ~~Marie Davis