Reading Things is so hard right now. Every time I sit down with a book, I hear a whine or feel needle-sharp puppy teeth playfully tugging on my jeans or, sometimes, on my skin. I’m having a hard time keeping interest throughout a whole novel because they’re taking me so long to read. I have a short attention span. Which is why I figured that now was a good time to read a collection of short stories, specificaly Kelly Link‘s Stranger Things Happen, to which I’ve been looking forward since I read Pretty Monsters last year. That, and I couldn’t find a cheap digital copy of Stranger Things Happen, and my library doesn’t have it – but my new friend Oyster does! So I jumped at the chance.
The stories in Stranger Things Happen are generally similar to those in Pretty Monsters, though, on the whole, they’re not quite as good. My one criticism of the stories in the latter collection was that they end so abruptly, and that’s not the case in Stranger Things Happen, but I think Kelly Link is better at cutting off stories in interesting places than really ending them.
I think my favorite story in this collection is the last one, “The Girl Detective,” about an inquisitive, mysterious girl, told from the perspective of an inquisitive, mysterious boy. The girl eats people’s dreams and solves mysteries by exploring those dreams. Her mother disappeared when she was little, and she’s trying to find her. The girl detective follows dreams in search of her mother. It’s really an interesting story. “Survivor’s Ball, or, The Donner Party” is another of my favorites. It’s about two young people who meet in a bar in New Zealand while they’re each traveling the world in the opposite direction. They rent a car and take a dangerous wintry road to a hotel in the middle of nowhere, and they meet some very interesting travelers. This one might be the creepiest. “The Specialist’s Hat,” which I like, appears in both collections, which, I guess, can be explained by there being two different publishers. It seems a little cheaty to me. “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” is about a man who has just died and is at a hotel, forgetting his former life. He tries repeatedly to remember his wife’s name and a lot of events in his life, but he can’t. He’s tied to the hotel and the island, writing letters that he hopes will make it to his wife. I liked “Water off a Black Dog’s Back” least of all. It’s a creative retelling of Leda and the Swan, and the best thing I can say about it is that it’s an interesting twist. There’s also a Cinderella retelling called “Shoe and Marriage” that is just passable. All of the other stories are generally good.
I really like Kelly Link. I read somewhere around the interwebs that she’s just signed a deal for a new collection of stories to be released in 2015, followed by a novel she hasn’t finished yet. I’ll be interested to read that novel, as this shorter form seems to work so well for her. I hope it’s like my favorite (and the longest) story in Pretty Monsters, “The Wizards of Perfil,” though I bet it’ll be more ghosty and less straight fantasy.
And now for Puppy Update Time, as my life revolves around said puppy for the time being.
She learned to fetch!
And she’s trying to make friends with the cats, but they don’t want to play:
She reeeeeally likes to play in long grass.
And she’s getting so big! Here’s a progression of photos marking every week since we got her:
Meanwhile, Palmer is in Nebraska and Iowa, dealing with Tornado Season.
And I am entirely exhausted. I also think I smell poop. See you next time.