I’m always a little wary when it comes to short stories (probably holdover trauma from getting a writing minor and reading the same kinds of short stories over and over again…). I’ve only recently discovered a love for stories that feature the fantastic. If it’s based on a fairy tale, is dark and twisted, or has sci-fi elements, I’m totally in. I’ve also discovered that I’m much more likely to make it through a collection written by one person or that has a central theme rather than a “best of the year” collection, which has too many shifts in tone and style for my liking. I like the continuity of novels, so a short story collection with one author is very appealing.
Kelly Link’s collection has got to be one of my absolute favorites as far as short stories go. Her stories have fantastical elements, but she doesn’t spend time either trying to make them seem normal or particularly out of the ordinary–they just are. Instead, her stories focus on human elements: the tug between our desires and our rational minds, our grief over things lost, our longing for what might be. She captures some of the most amazing strengths and debilitating weaknesses humans exhibit, all while maintaining an interesting setting that imposes its own rules on the characters.
If you’re interested in some really great short stories, you should give Kelly Link’s work a try. Her work is simply awe inspiring. It makes me want to give writing short stories another try.