Friday, March 2, 2007

Do you believe in Magic for Beginners?

Audrey Niffenegger sure does; excerpt:

Thankfully, one need pine no longer: after a couple of years' worth of
word-of-mouth buzz on the internet, Magic for Beginners, Kelly Link's
superb collection of short stories, is finally available in bookshops.
Now, you may be thinking, I don't like science fiction. I don't like
short stories. Get over it. This isn't exactly science fiction (it's
not exactly not science fiction either). Link is the literary
descendant of Jorge Luis Borges and Franz Kafka, those supremely
matter-of-fact creators of alternative realities. "Josephine the
Singer, or the Mouse Folk", Kafka's cheery little fable, would be right
at home nestled against Link's story "Catskin", in which children are
created from bits and sticks, turned into cats or princes, and
sometimes drowned in the river.

a narrative uncertainty at times, moments when the author simply tells
us to decide for ourselves, or brusquely informs us that we aren't to
know what happened. But there are Borgesian, labyrinthine levels to
many of the tales, especially in "Magic for Beginners", the title
story, which features the aforementioned Free People's World-Tree
Library. This vast library is the setting for a TV show which is avidly
watched by a small band of ordinary American teenagers, even though it
never appears on a regularly scheduled day or channel. But the
teenagers themselves are in the TV show too, and the characters are
trying to contact them for reasons that are urgent, though hard to
figure out. It's complex; it is also continuously surprising,
compelling and strange.

That's right: Borges.  Big name to be dropping, no?  Give Stranger Things Happen a try.  (Free.)

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