Sunday, September 10, 2006

Only just a dreamboat sailing in my head

Somehow or other I read "The Faery Handbag" by Kelly Link online, and I liked it enough that I bought her book Magic for Beginners when I saw it in the bookstore.

Also, I remember some weeks ago I heard some writer being interviewed on NPR and telling the interviewer about her fascination with zombies. In hindsight this person was probably Kelly Link (cf. "Some Zombie Contingency Plans") but I was not thinking of this at the time I bought the book.

I have mixed feelings about this collection of stories. They all have this dreamlike, magical realism vibe and I think all the individual sentences and paragraphs and whole pages are very well written. But somewhere above the length scale of one page, the stories, dreamlike, become incoherent. "The Faery Handbag" is not quite representative, since of all the stories in the collection, it has the most normal story structure and doesn't leave you wondering what the hell happened at the end.

It's reminiscent of the way some other extremely talented writers (e.g. Stephen King, Neal Stephenson) have trouble writing good endings. In Kelly Link's case, the stories tend to end just by turning up the surreality knob a couple of notches. Then the plasticine porter loads your luggage into the fricking newspaper taxi and you float off into the sunset.

On the plus side, "Magic for Beginners", the title story in the collection, does feature a character whose hair is infested with "miniature, wicked, fire-breathing golems."


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