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Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link

Stranger Things Happen (original 2001; edition 2012)

by Kelly Link, Kathleen Jennings (Illustrator)

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1,335385,805 (4.08)66
Title:Stranger Things Happen
Authors:Kelly Link
Other authors:Kathleen Jennings (Illustrator)
Info:Subterranean (2012), Edition: Signed, Limited Edition, Hardcover, 232 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites

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Stranger Things Happen: Stories by Kelly Link (2001)


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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
There's a tremendous kind of fairy-tale logic in Kelly Link's short stories, and I don't say that just because several of the stories in this collection are or include fairy-tale retellings. It's more to do with the construction of them, the way the stories seem absolutely whole and necessary in themselves even when each piece doesn't necessarily follow logically from the last. They feel true in that fairy-tale kind of way, even when they're obviously fantastical or downright strange. Of the stories in this collection, my favorites are "Flying Lessons," about a modern-day demigod's girlfriend; "Survivor's Ball, or, The Donner Party," about an unusual party met at the end of a long road trip; "Louise's Ghost," about loves lost and ghosts collected; and, as always, "The Specialist's Hat." ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jul 30, 2016 |
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
The ghost(?) of a man stuck in a strange limbo tries fruitlessly to remember his wife's name. Through his monologue, a sad story gradually emerges.

Water Off a Black Dog's Back
A young librarian meets an attractive girl as she's returning a book in worse-than-dog-eared condition. A love affair quickly starts - but when she takes him home to meet the family, he's drawn straight into a Southern Gothic nightmare.

The Specialist's Hat
Previously read in Link's 'Pretty Monsters' collection, as well as in 'Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic" and in a Year's Best collection. This is a well-anthologized story! It's also available free on Link's site: http://www.kellylink.net/fiction/link-specialist.htm
Creepy! Creepy, creepy, creeeeeepy! If you buy, and move into a haunted house, you PROBABLY should check the babysitter's references, and maybe her ID, too, before you leave your young children with her. Better yet, just get the hell out of that house before it's too late.

Flying Lessons
"Going to hell, instructions and advice..."
Fractured and reconstructed, a modern myth that follows a kleptomaniac innkeeper's daughter (well, actually, it's a British bed & breakfast catering to the tourist trade...) Weird connections, and more than a hint of Eurydice...

Travels with the Snow Queen
An adult retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's tale. Here, Link reimagines Gerda and Kay not as innocent children but as two contemporary adults in a dysfunctional relationship. A strong feminist message is the main takeaway, as Link turns the original story on its head.

Vanishing Act
Hildy has always envied her cousin, Jenny Rose, who gets to travel around the world with her missionary parents. But after Jenny Rose is sent to live with them, her feelings change. Jenny Rose is quiet, uncommunicative - the reader can tell, traumatized - but we see things only from the child Hildy's perspective. But Hildy is more perceptive than any of those around her, who gradually seem to stop noticing Jenny Rose at all...

Survivor's Ball, or, The Donner Party
Imagine the weird and unpleasant dream that you might have after watching a TV show about the Donner Party. Your relationship problems, random things from your day, problems with your teeth, and snippets of the TV show are all mixed together into somethings that's half nightmare and half just... interesting.

Shoe and Marriage
Really, this one is four separate short pieces on a similar theme.
The first is a feminist take-off on Cinderella. The second, a dream/nightmare inspired by televised beauty pageants. The third: What if Imelda Marcos (or someone like her) was actually sympathetic, once you understood her background? Fourth: An encounter with a fortune-teller.

Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water
Have you ever noticed that there's a certain type of blonde woman? They all look alike. Maybe they're actually aliens.

Louise's Ghost
One Louise has the strange ghost of a naked man in her house. Her best friend, also Louise, likes to sleep with cellists. Her young daughter is obsessed with the color green.

The Girl Detective
Is the narrator the plucky girl detective? Or is she detecting the girl detective? Nancy Drew meets the Twelve Dancing Princesses, through a weird kaleidoscope.

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A swan, a bull, a shower of gold, something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue. He seduced Sarah Stoneking in an empty movie house, stepped right off of the screen during the matinee and lisped “Shweetheart” at her. She fell into the old goat’s arms. I know, I was there.

Having really enjoyed "Magic for Beginners" I was initially extremely disappointed by this book, as I found the first two stories quite unpleasant to read and wasn't too fond of the third one either. But by the time I had read "Flying Lessons" and "Travels with the Snow Queen", I was feeling better about it as stories based on mythology and fairy tales are much more to my taste. "Survivor's Ball, Or, the Donner Party" was an odd one. I found it quite unnerving, as all the way through it I kept thinking that something really bad was going to happen, but nothing did. So, overall, although I didn't think that this collection was as good as her next one, I'd still say that it's worth reading. ( )
  isabelx | May 17, 2014 |
Table of Contents
◦ Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
◦ Water Off a Black Dog's Back
◦ The Specialist's Hat
◦ Flying Lessons
◦ Travels with the Snow Queen
◦ Vanishing Act
◦ Survivor's Ball, or, The Donner Party
◦ Shoe and Marriage
◦ Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water
◦ Louise's Ghost
◦ The Girl Detective ( )
  SChant | May 9, 2014 |
Originally posted at FanLit. http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/stranger-things-happen/

Stranger Things Happen is Kelly Link??s debut collection of weird stories, some of which won major awards. This was my first experience with Ms. Linkƒ??s fantasy fiction. Overall I was impressed with her imagination and style. While I admired all of the stories and liked several of them, the emotion I felt most often while reading Stranger Things Happen was unsettled. Linkƒ??s stories reminded me somewhat of the work of Peter Straub, another brilliant writer who I admire but donƒ??t naturally gravitate toward. Here are the stories in Stranger Things Happen:

ƒ??Carnation, Lily, Lily, Roseƒ? ƒ?? (originally published in Fence magazine in 1998) A dead man writes to his beloved wife whose name he canƒ??t remember. This story has a great setting. It starts off beautifully heartbreaking and becomes horribly heartbreaking by the end. Because of the emotional impact, this was one of my favorites.

ƒ??Water Off a Black Dogƒ??s Backƒ? ƒ?? (Century, 1995) Carroll is finally going home with his girlfriend Rachel to meet her family. Carroll has suspected that Rachel was embarrassed about either him or them so heƒ??s not too surprised to find that they are odd and they have secrets. When he meets them, he has to decide whether or not he really wants to fit in. (In case you wonder, I would have run away.)

ƒ??The Specialistƒ??s Hatƒ? ƒ?? (Event Horizon, 1998) Claire and Samantha are twins who live with their father in a mysterious house. When a babysitter comes over one night, they find out just how weird the house really is. Another creepy and unsettling story that, frankly, I just didnƒ??t get.

ƒ??Flying Lessonsƒ? ƒ?? (Asimovƒ??s, 1995) I liked this story about teenagers June and Humphrey who are falling in love and are just starting to discover something pretty special, and really weird, about their families.

ƒ??Travels With the Snow Queenƒ? ƒ?? (Lady Churchillƒ??s Rosebud Wristlet, Winter 1996/7) A young woman travels far to find out why her boyfriend left her for the Snow Queen. She has a few things sheƒ??d like to tell him, too. Along the way, she discovers that travel through fairy-tale lands is hard for the single woman. I loved this whimsical story.

ƒ??Vanishing Actƒ? ƒ?? (Realms of Fantasy, 1996) Jenny Roseƒ??s parents, who are missionaries in Indonesia, have sent their daughter to live with her cousin Hildyƒ??s family in the United States. Jenny seems to be pining away, almost like sheƒ??s becoming a little less substantial each day. Hildy thinks Jennyƒ??s condition is causing her own familyƒ??s decline, too, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. I enjoyed this haunting little story.

ƒ??Survivorƒ??s Ball, or, The Donner Partyƒ? ƒ?? (Lady Churchillƒ??s Rosebud Wristlet, 1998) A traveler meets a strange girl in Queeensland and ends up at a weird party. This disturbing story is about the shame and relief of survival. Interesting concept, but too surreal for my taste.

ƒ??Shoe and Marriageƒ? ƒ?? (4 stories, 2000) This one contains short vignettes relating different types of marriage to different types of shoes. Weird and cute.

ƒ??Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Waterƒ? ƒ?? (Original to first edition, 2001) This odd story is written in the first person by a young brunette woman who lives in her fatherƒ??s garage. She seems to be in love with her best friend Jack who is obsessed with blonde women and develops an interesting theory about them.

ƒ??Louiseƒ??s Ghostƒ? ƒ?? (Original to first edition, 2001) Most writers wouldnƒ??t dare use the same name for the two main characters of a story, but Kelly Link dares and pulls it off. Louise and Louise are best friends. One of the Louises is being haunted by a friendly ghost and the other dates cellists. Together they hatch a plan to use the cellists to get rid of the ghost. A clever story.

ƒ??The Girl Detectiveƒ? ƒ?? (Event Horizon, 1999) In this bizarre story, a Nancy-Drew type girl detective whose mother is missing is involved in a series of investigations which involve Chinese restaurants, bank robbers, dancing princesses, and the underworld. The whole thing feels more like a dream than a story and itƒ??s got some memorable recurring imagery.

Stranger Things Happen was originally published in 2001, but a new edition has just been released by Subterranean Press. This signed limited edition includes cute cover and interior art by Kathleen Jennings and a new chapbook called Origin stories which contains two related stories about superheroes in a society that made me think of Wild Cards:

ƒ??Origin Storyƒ? ƒ?? A superhero is spending some time with his high school sweeheart when he returns to his hometown for a visit. At the end, weƒ??re wondering which one of them is actually the superhero.

ƒ??Secret Identityƒ? ƒ?? In this quirky story, a 15 year old girl travels across the country to a hotel in New York so she can meet the 34 year old man sheƒ??s been flirting with in an MMORPG. He thinks sheƒ??s 32. The hotel is sponsoring a superhero convention which makes for some pretty amusing scenes. I think this was my favorite story in the book. I notice that I prefer Kelly Linkƒ??s teen characters to her adults.

As I mentioned, I admire Kelly Linkƒ??s style and creativity, and while there were a few stories I truly enjoyed in Stranger Things Happen, I had a hard time warming up to many of them. Most of the characters are so strange that theyƒ??re hard to relate to, the surreal plots make it difficult to settle into the stories, and the explicit sex between characters I didnƒ??t like, or who didnƒ??t seem to like each other, was a little off-putting. However, when Link writes about characters who seem real enough to care about (such as the 15 year old gamer in the last story) I find that I love her absurdist style. Therefore, Iƒ??m looking forward to reading more of Linkƒ??s work. If youƒ??d like to try some of Kelly Linkƒ??s stories, she offers most of them for free DRM-free download at Small Beer Press. Let me know what you think. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kelly Linkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jackson, ShelleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, KathleenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
This first collection by award-winning author Kelly Link, takes fairy tales and cautionary tales, dictators and extraterrestrials, amnesiacs and honeymooners, revenants and readers alike, on a voyage into new, strange, and wonderful territory. The girl detective must go to the underworld to solve the case of the tap-dancing bank robbers. A librarian falls in love with a girl whose father collects artificial noses. A dead man posts letters home to his estranged wife. Two women named Louise begin a series of consecutive love affairs with a string of cellists. A newly married couple become participants in an apocalyptic beauty pageant. Sexy blond aliens invade New York City. A young girl learns how to make herself disappear.
These eleven extraordinary stories are quirky, spooky, and smart. They all have happy endings. Every story contains a secret prize. Each story was written especially for you.
Stories from Stranger Things Happen have won the Nebula, Tiptree, and World Fantasy Award. Stranger Things Happen was a Salon Book of the Year, one of the Village Voice's 25 Favorite Books of 2001, and was nominated for the Firecracker Alternative Book Award.
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Collects eleven short stories incorporating ghosts, aliens, and the living dead, including the stories "Survivor's Ball, or, The Donner Party" and "Louise's Ghost"

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Small Beer Press

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