One of my favorite short story authors is Kelly Link. One of her collections is Magic for Beginners and this week I read the story of the same title.
Here are some of my favorite lines and reflections from that text.
Page 210: When you get tired of having a secret, you tell Amy. Understand: Amy isn’t that much stupider than anyone else in this story. It’s just that she thinks out loud.
I love how the author talks directly to the reader. These lines are an explanation of the character of Amy who represents that one friend that everyone has. The one that when you are tired of keeping a secret the person you know will spread it. The last piece of this excerpt is a concise explanation that makes sense. It’s not her fault. It is just the way she is…loud. 😃
Page 211: Elizabeth’s family has a large and distracting selection of shampoos.
This is one of the odd lines that I find endearing and funny. I can visualize the plethora of shampoos in the shower. The character in this story showers at friend’s houses because his dad is weird about timing him.
Page 211: Talis is, famously, a loner. She doesn’t listen to music as far as anyone knows, she doesn’t wear significant amounts of black, she isn’t particularly good (or bad) at math or English, and she doesn’t drink, debate, knit, or refuse to eat meat. If she keeps a blog, she’s never admitted it to anyone.
I love the description of this character – and her name. It makes me like the character even more than I did before these lines. The mix of descriptors in the list are odd and quirky and makes me pay attention as a reader.
Page 212: I’m not allowed to tell you what they fought about.
As a writer, I love this line. It progresses the story along and also ups the intrigue. There is an underlying issue with the parents. You know this but get the feeling from the son when he utters this line – again to the reader.
Page 212: They imagine that life will always be like this— like a television show in eternal syndication— that they will always have each other.
This line makes the connection to the reader of the real-life people to the tv show that is a character in the story as well. It is not certain whether the show is real, or where it is even filmed in the story. There are multiple actors that play different characters. It also plays to the naive idea that the friends you have in school are the ones that you will have in adult life. That the group of influence will not change and you will always be close.
Page 212: Velveeta- and- pickle (a reference to a type of sandwich being made – ewwwwww)
Page 212: There is something dreamlike about the way that she makes a sandwich. As if she is really making something that isn’t a sandwich at all; as if she’s making something far more meaningful and mysterious. Or as if soon he will wake up and realize that there are no such things as sandwiches.
So many ideas and items in life have multiple meanings. The fight is not really about the fight… it is often about an underlying issue. Short stories are multilayered and these lines exemplify this idea for me. There is a melody to these lines I enjoy reading, even if it is just about a sandwich…and something more.
Page 214: once spent eight thousand dollars on a Japanese singing toilet.
The ridiculousness of this line made me laugh. The dad is a shoplifter, a writer, and a cook.
Link is known for not always tying up her stories in a nice bow. Sometimes there are large pieces that are left hanging for reader interpertation. There is a relationship that is unique between the story and the reader and the author and the reader. Knowing this before you read her work is incredibly helpful.
One of the other favorites of her stories is the Fairey Handbag.