Jelly Ink Press



Small Beer Press

magic for beginnersmagic for beginners
kelly link
July 1, 2005 · 1-931520-15-1 · $24.00 · Illustrated by Shelley Jackson.

Best of the Year:

  • "Link's stories ... play in a place few writers go, a netherworld between literature and fantasy, Alice Munro and J.K. Rowling, and Link finds truths there that most authors wouldn't dare touch."
    -- Time Magazine
  • "Link's writing shimmers with imagination."
  • "A mind-bending blast, as funny, disturbing and poignant as anything I've read this year."
    -- Capitol Times
  • "The storyteller's mantra -- "It gets better" -- come to life and multiplied."
    -- Village Voice
  • "Link's powerful prose places this collection into a class of its own."
    -- Boldtype (2005 Notable Books)
  • San Francisco Chronicle.

MFB PBTwo editions, limited (available here and at select bookshops) and trade hardcover. Paperback published 8/06 by Harcourt Harvest.

Link's engaging and funny second collection -- call it kitchen-sink magical realism -- riffs on haunted convenience stores, husbands and wives, rabbits, zombies, weekly apocalyptic poker parties, witches, superheroes, marriage, and cannons -- and includes several new stories. Link is an original voice: no one else writes quite like this.

Each story is illustrated by cover artist Shelley Jackson. The cover is modeled on Leonardo Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine."

Stories from Magic for Beginners have been published in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, Conjunctions, The Dark, and One Story. "Stone Animals" was selected for The Best American Short Stories: 2005.

Also: poker cards, T-shirts.

Table of Contents: The Faery Handbag : The Hortlak : The Cannon : Stone Animals : Catskin : Some Zombie Contingency Plans : The Great Divorce : Magic for Beginners : Lull.



Story Prize recommended reading list.

* Not only does Link find fresh perspectives from which to explore familiar premises, she also forges ingenious connections between disparate images and narrative approaches to suggest a convincing alternate logic that shapes the worlds of her highly original fantasies."
-- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"KELLY LINK has an uncanny knack for casting spells over her readers, for luring them into the dark places -- the attic, the underworld, a realm beneath a hill. These stories bend and transcend genre as Link stirs together myth, mystery, horror, and fantasy. Fairy tales and myths may be timeless, but these stories are of this moment."
-- Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Phoenix

"Cult-favorite fabulist and Shirley Jackson-esque master of the short story, returns with an eagerly-awaited new collection of thoughtfully strange tales that sprinkle the mundane with pixie dust, a dash of old-fashioned tragedy and a bit of gallows humor."
-- The Ruminator Review

"A collection of nine scintillating stories, three original, by one of our greatest short story writers. 'A complete delight.' [Rich Horton]"
-- Locus Notable Books

UK reviews

"This is one of the most extraordinary and wonderful books of the year."
Time Out London, Mar. 27, 07

"Possibly grimmer than Grimm."
The Herald, Feb 2, 07

"Beautifully written short stories; eccentric and dark, the collection is an Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups."
Dazed and Confused

"Link's writing is bold, tender, mischievous and unsettling."
Cork Evening Echo, Feb 17, 07

"These are weird and wacky tales, each with their own barmy internal logic which draws you in, flips you on your head and leaves you dizzy with disbelief.... Link's extraordinary use of language is as haunting as the tales themselves. She blends fantasy and reality into an irresistible melange that, at its best, becomes a powerful metaphor for the unreliability of perception."
—Jane Wessel, Venue (****)

"Link's magic is to show the extraordinary in the ordinary and vice versa: no mean feat."
RTE Guide (*****)

"Just when you think you've read all the best magic and fantasy stories, along comes Link and the dull world is enchanted all over again. Her imagination floats free into her very own twilight zone."
Saga, Mar 07

"Whether she's writing about a suburban family haunted by rabbits or a grandmother who keeps a world hidden in her handbag, Link's stories are witty, moving and sometimes scary."
The Gloss Magazine, Feb 07

"A collection of nine stories from a talent to watch, this is a lyrical fantasy where the ordinary is made extraordinary."
The Bookseller, Oct 06

Advance Praise

"Kelly Link owns the most darkly playful voice in American fiction since Donald Barthelme. She is pushing the American short story into places that it hasn't yet been pushed, while somehow managing to maintain a powerful connection to traditional forms and storytelling values."
-- Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

"The dream-logic of Magic for Beginners is intoxicating. These stories will come alive, put on zoot suits, and wrestle you to the ground. They want you and you will be theirs."
-- Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

"A wonderful rattlebag of fantastic tales from far beyond the concrete sidewalks and convenience stores we know. Like her first collection, Magic for Beginners uses humor as the main prism through which the author views her mostly hapless or at least happy-go-lucky characters. The strange attraction of Link's fiction is that even when you're not really sure what's going on you're having way too much fun reading to stop and rereading these tall tales is a positive pleasure."
-- Rich Rennicks Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC

"The stories in Magic for Beginners make their own strange, perfectly formed sense. Link creates these familiar, spooky, sometimes funny worlds with cats parented by witches, or a cheerleader hanging out with the devil, or creepifying rabbits. I'm always a little tense reading these stories. In the very best way, I never know what is coming next. If she only parcelled out one elegant sentence at a time I would beg for each one."
-- Pam Harcourt, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

Available in all good bookshops. Distributed to the trade by Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and Consortium.

If you have any questions, please email us. Thank you.