Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link - review
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
I keep having to check the spine of this book to verify that it is indeed shelved as Young Adult. Because it is so good.
Kelly Link's short story "Monster," included in this collection, was in the anthology Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren't as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones... So Maybe You Could Help Us Out. About a very scary monster who has the sense of humor of an eleven-year-old boy, it stuck in my mind. "Weird." I thought. "Also really funny, and also, I have no idea whether that kid gets eaten or not." Not a lot of adult fiction leaves you hanging to that degree.
The very first story in this book, "The Wrong Grave," cemented these opinions. The author's matter-of-fact, conversational tone makes the creepy stuff completely much more creepier, a trick that Neil Gaiman employs from time to time, but Kelly Link's unbelievable imagination and wildly unpredictable plotting put her - I'm gonna say it, and it's gonna hurt me more than it does you - out ahead of, or perhaps just out further than Gaiman. She has ideas that perform like underage Chinese acrobats - plate-spinning, teeth-hanging, pole-climbing ideas.
There is love in these stories too, though not a lot of romance: there's connection and true friendship and sorrow. I have read this book in my car, in the bath, and waiting for an oil change at the Honda dealership - possibly the least magical place in the world. The last thing I read there was The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and I'll tell you, the lighting and the CNN and the burnt-coffee smell ruined that book for me. But when they called my name yesterday to say my car was done, I did not want to close this book.