Wonderful, magical, all too real

Audio reviews

“Link’s haunting collection of short stories trades in both the familiar and the macabre, creating worlds in which ghosts are accepted, space travel is a given, and superheroes are all too real.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“But Link’s appeal isn’t really about verbal sleight-of-hand. It’s about creating mini-universes that operate according to their own rules, and compelling characters who do the same. Characters like a video-game-fanatic teenager who comes from a small town to New York City, where a convention of dentists and one of superheroes are being held in the same hotel. She’s planning to meet a man she’s encountered only in her online world … but if you think you know how that story turns out, let me assure you: you haven’t got a clue.
The cast of readers, including such stalwarts as Heyborne and Campbell along with others I’d never heard of, does an impeccable job of matching voice to narrative, helping to make this collection one of the best of any year.”
Providence Journal

Print reviews

“Do you like magical realism? Stories that start out in normal places, with regular people, and then get impossible and weird? I don’t, either. It makes me feel as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me, that I’ve been fooled, led somewhere I didn’t intend to go. . . . But then, I’d never read anything by Kelly Link before. . . . After a few stories, I was hooked. I trusted Link to take me places I wanted to go, even if I didn’t know where.”
— Katie Haegele, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Link deftly fuses science fiction, societal satire, and literature in this brilliantly strange short-story collection. With every tale she conjures a different universe, each more captivating than the last. At first glance these realms don’t seem too far from our own, but soon their wild, mysterious corners are illuminated. In one, rich teens who have implants that render them invisible to cameras hire body doubles to pose for them in public. In another, young girls collect “boyfriend” dolls that look and act more realistic than human boys. But just as you start to comprehend one world, its story ends. Luckily, this text is ripe for rereading—you’ll long to return the minute you leave.” A Entertainment Weekly

“Kelly Link has a knack for snapping readers to attention with her opening lines. “When the sex tape happened and things went south with Fawn, the demon lover did what he always did,” she writes in “I Can See Right Through You,” one of nine stories in this wildly imaginative collection. She sustains interest with eccentric characters and peculiar elements: In “The Summer People,” the father of a flu-ridden girl hits the road for a prayer meeting, leaving her to manage a property inhabited by magical beings. In “Light,” a Florida woman born with two shadows notes that “it was almost impossible to distinguish a homemade or store-bought shadow from a real one.” (She works in a warehouse that stores sleeping people.) Ms. Link never fusses over the surreal twists in her stories, but they contain so much emotional truth that there’s no need to explain a thing.”
— Carmela Ciuraru, New York Times

“As compulsively readable as a trendy YA novel, but have the cultural richness of Angela Carter, the emotional complexity of Alice Munro, and a precise use of language all Link’s own.”
— Alison Broverman, National Post

“Features her signature dark humor in stories about such subjects as an aging movie star visiting a Florida swamp where his ex is making a reality show about ghosts.”
Tampa Bay Times

“These mischievous, clever, playful narratives are replete with tongue-in-cheek pop-cultural references and ironic nods to fantasy and genre fiction themes but operate according to a dream logic that makes it possible for the author’s imagination to truly reign free. Link does not conform to genre but uses it to her own ends — she borrows, blends and pokes good-natured fun and ultimately bring us something fresh and artful.” — Halifax Times-News

 

“their focus is on the stuff of life.”

“These tales marshall fantastical elements, but their focus is on the stuff of life.”
— Editor’s Choice, New York Times Book Review

“Link’s stories are never fully realist, but they are always beautifully written. “The Summer People” begins with the exquisite line “Fran’s daddy woke her up wielding a mister.” In this and many other ­places the experience of reading Link is a lot more like reading Raymond Carver than it should be, given that her characters do things like throw parties on spaceships and get off with literal toy boys. Then again, now that we are far enough into the 21st century that celebrities have their names down for space trips, and most people have a phone capable of reminding them to pick up their dry cleaning when they leave the house, maybe it’s just as normal for a Kelly Link story to contain a pocket universe or a tent that has a cottage on the inside as it was for Carver to describe a broken fridge or a cathedral.”
— Scarlett Thomas, New York Times Book Review

“Kelly Link is best known for her outstanding young adult fiction (Pretty Monsters, for instance), but in Get in Trouble: Stories, her first book for adults in a decade, she brings the fantastical and odd into clear focus. Oh, hell, she just plain brings it. There’s a convention of superheroes where a runaway from Iowa plans to meet a guy from online; a pair of drunks at an abandoned theme park that provides a decaying Oz backdrop, yellow brick road and all; and a woman married to an alien, though her real problem is sleeping sickness. Not all the stories have supernatural connections, but there’s a certain fascination with the unusual that hits close to the original meaning of the word “awesome,” in that the oddness — or even the normalcy — of the situation is secondary to the emotional and psychological reality of life. Certainly one of the best books of the winter, Get in Trouble will make short work of long nights.
— Colorado Springs Independent

“The nine pieces in Link’s new collection feel distinct from any set standard or storytelling tradition. These stories are odd and discomfiting, full of jagged edges and blind corners.”
The Globe and Mail

“In Get in Trouble, it’s pretty incredible to find such an accessible passageway to fairy world, where interstellar hauntings are as frightening and eldritch as otherworldly magpies who reign over dappled mountains. Kelly Link is a master guide who is only too willing to scare, thrill, and intrigue with a well-turned walk in those woods.”
Portland Mercury

“Still, only the marvelous contents of these books can demonstrate Link’s mastery and self-confidence as an author: She believes in her stories, no matter how off the wall they might seem, and she makes her readers believe in them, too.”
— Michael Dirda, Washington Post

“The crazy-quilt skin of her storytelling conceals old bones.”
— Paul Di Filippo, B&N Review

“Ghosts and superheroes flit through these stories, occasionally alighting; haunting us, after they’ve moved on.”
Seattle Times

Reviews everywhere

“As a writer, Link knows there’s nothing she’s “supposed” to do; her imaginative freedom is unmitigated by a need to counterbalance the weirdness with explanation. “Don’t explain,” Billie Holiday used to sing, and Kelly Link concurs.”
— Meg Wolitzer, NPR

“Link is a master of the contemporary short story, and her zeitgeist is oddness.”
— Cate Fricke, Bookslut

“That’s Kelly Link in a nutshell: inordinately brainy, always concise, darkly whimsical, and entertaining as heck.”
— Eugenia Williamson, Boston Globe

“With a delicately balanced mix of the utterly mundane and the bewitchingly fantastical, each of the nine stories offers something at once relatable and slightly off-kilter to chew on.”
— Alexis Burling, The Oregonian

“Link’s writing is characterized by both a high literary value and a deep human sentiment…. At the same time, no matter how far-ranging her imagination, how beautiful her language, Link keeps the characters firmly at the focal point of these stories, tales of change and understanding, of loss and growth, of fundamental human truths that will resonate with familiarity for every reader, no matter how weird things get.”
— Robert J Wiersema, The Toronto Star

“There were times, reading this book, that I audibly went “Mmmm.” How can you not, when confronted with rhythmic, lulling writing, traces of supernatural energy, and dark, writhing plot points? Link’s first book in 10 years requires a sense of adventure and, at times, a strong stomach—but the weirder it gets, the more satisfying it feels.
— Megan Angelo, Glamour

“The best of her stories linger after they end, casting shadows and opening doors to strange new worlds.”
— Margaret Quamme, Columbus Dispatch

“Link tiptoes up behind these characters and gives them a push; get in trouble, she seems to say, show us what you can do.” — Shelf Awareness

“The stories in Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble soar and zing like LSD-tipped arrows shot into the farthest reaches of the imagination.”
— Elissa Schappel, Vanity Fair

Largehearted Boy Book Notes

Kelly has a huge “working” playlist (and also: huge headphones) and she wrote about part of it for David Gutowski’s Largehearted Boy Book Notes series:

I wrote the nine stories in Get in Trouble over not quite a decade. I wrote them, usually, with headphones on; usually listening to to the same songs over and over again. When no one else is around I sing out loud — embarrassingly, terribly, out of tune — mangling lyrics and harmonies. Does anyone else do this? Type out your own sentences while singing someone else’s lyrics? Anyway. I need to be distracted from the work that I’m doing while I’m doing it.

The songs below are culled from the very much larger playlist that I listen to when I work. There are significantly more than nine songs on it, but I couldn’t whittle it down any further. They’re the songs that I wore out the hardest while writing these stories. I’ve ordered them according to how long they’ve been stuck on that playlist, and for each story I’ve attached the song (or songs) that seemed to have particular resonances with it, and for me. [read on]

Interview: Brazos Books

Brazos Bookstore: In an interview you did with The Short Review, you said you often enjoy writing with other writers within “conversational distance.” Do you still do that?

Kelly Link: Yes! I do! I’m actually sitting here with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, on a couple of sofas. It’s 1:38 in the morning and we’re all getting a little more work done . . . Read More

By the Book

The author, most recently, of Get in Trouble asks: ‘Why is the prospect of hosting a dinner party for much-admired living writers so much more terrifying than the idea of hosting the dead?‘”

Kelly Link, By the Book, in The New York Times Book Review