12 January 2002

One of my best friends in elementary school was a girl by the name Kelly Link--bright, sweet, articulate, highly imaginative, and extremely well read. In fact, I think I would have to attribute a good deal of what I am today to my friendship with her, particularly how her voraciousness towards books led me to share that same love of literature and to attempt to keep up with her latest literary finds. She could also spin interesting and fantastic tales that kept the mind of a second grader in suspense or made one recoil in fright.

Kelly moved away when we were still in the midst of elementary school and I saw her seldom again, though our parents continued to communicate some, particularly at Christmas, up to this day. I knew that she had gone to an Ivy League college as I had--Columbia in her case--and had done graduate studies. Beyond that, I had not really kept up with her pursuits.

But this Christmas the letter from her mom told not only of her marriage and the couple's Brooklyn address, but also that she had published a collection of short stories called Stranger Things Happen (Small Beer Press, 2001). The book also has a webpage.

Publishing a collection of stories is not so odd, but it turns out that it is a very unusual and quirky collection of supernatural, post-modern, feminist tales of the fantastic. Not only that, it has been getting great reviews from the likes of the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and The Washington Post. It appears on the "best books of 2001" lists of the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon.com, The Village Voice, and the Montreal Mirror. Neil Gaiman (who, I grant, can get at bit overly enthusiastic) writes, "Kelly Link is probably the best short story writer currently out there, in any genre or none. She puts one word after another and makes real magic with them-funny, moving, tender, brave and dangerous. She is unique, and should be declared a national treasure, and possibly surrounded at all times by a cordon of armed marines."

I'm impressed.

And now that my copy has arrived in the mail and I'm reading it, I really am very impressed. I won't even attempt to describe the tales Kelly tells. You'd have to read them for yourself to even begin to make sense of anything I'd say. And they certainly aren't going to be to everybody's taste, but so far, I'm hooked.