Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

From Goodreads:
 In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.

Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids...These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded in sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty--and the hidden strengths--of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.
 
Writing
One of my regrets is that when a book is this well written and this enjoyable to read, I have less to say about it than if I had issues.  My reviews for amazing books are always much shorter than my reviews for bad books.  That said, this is gonna be super short.  It's amazing.  Exactly the kind of short story I love to read.  Echoes of Karen Russell and George Saunders all over the place, but still in her own unique voice.  I can't get enough of this type of short story - based in reality and focused on every day emotions and situations but always with a bizarre, sometimes magical, twist.  It's just beautifully done and full of gorgeous language, but never too wordy or descriptive.

Entertainment Value
Again, I couldn't put it down.  I loved every story in here.  I started to try to list my favorites and realized that I just can't - I felt like every story in here was a winner.  Once again, not much to say beyond the fact that I found it enthralling and enchanting.

Overall
In 2008 I gave Link's collection Stranger Things Happen.  My preferences have evolved dramatically since then, beginning with my reading of Tenth of December two years ago, so I immediately placed a hold on this and Link's other collections.  I'm anxious to see how my response will differ now from eight years ago when I criticized it for being "weird".  Now that "weird" is one of my go-to indicators of a good book, I think I'll be re-rating it on Goodreads.

I think this one is going to appeal to those who like the works of Russell and Saunders, to fans of magical realism, to fans of the weird and twisted, and to those who love a well-written short story.  Avoid if you're looking for real-life situations, but give it a try if you're interested in real-life feelings but can take a bit of the weird along with it.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.

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