Before Clarion starts I have been making an effort to read something by each of the writers who will be teaching. I've enjoyed what I've read, but nothing really made me go 'Wow!' until I started reading Kelly Link's Stranger Things Happen.
Some fiction I read makes me think, "Gee, I can do better than this." Other stuff, I think, "I can do this well if I try and learn and work." I read Kelly Link, though, and I think, "Holy fucking Christ, I'm never going to able to write this well in a million years."
Stranger Things Happen is short stories. All are fantasy. Tone varies from horror to whimsical humor. Why are they so good? Many reasons. The sentence-level prose is superb. Just watching her do simile and metaphor is an education in itself. There is a sureness of hand in her writing, a sense of every word being correct and perfect, and no better word could have been chosen. Her prose is just illuminating. It is a thing of beauty.
The stories' structures are complex, frequently slipping back and forth through time, or disregarding time altogether. She lays out multiple threads, not drawing them together until the end, when the reader finally becomes aware of the pattern they have been forming.
Link's characters tend not to be heroes or villains, but everyday people. Even when they're gods, goddesses, and characters out of myth and fairytale, they're everyday people, acting as people ordinarily do, sometimes wisely, sometimes recklessly, usually with some degree of selfishness. I like the fact that Link never talks over their heads to the reader as some authors do *cough*William Gibson*cough*, but always seems to respect them for what they are.
Her 1999 World Fantasy Award winning story, The Specialist's Hat, is available on the net. It is truly eerie. Like the hat of its title, it will bite you when you aren't paying attention. It reminds me of a line from C.S. Lewis, something about things of great evil that seem innocent to the uninitiated. "The Specialist's Hat" is one of those things.
Every once in a while I stumble across an author who just resonates with me. Thomas M. Disch is one. So is Evelyn Waugh. So, it seems, is Kelly Link. I just love her writing. I despair of ever being a tenth as good myself.
My circadian switch-over, a.k.a, jet-lag while standing still, enters its second day. I feel somewhat woozy and lightheaded, but otherwise I'm holding up. 36 hours before I leave for Clarion.
異名 == imei == different
name, nickname, alias
|Originally a pictograph of a person putting on a mask, i.e., looking different or strange. Henshall suggests taking the top radical as 'field' (田) and 'together' (共), and as a mnemonic: 'Together again in a different field—how strange.'|