Short stories have never been my cup of tea. It takes so much effort to get into the groove of a story that it seems pointless to have it end so quickly. After a friend suggested short stories via audiobook, I’m starting to change my mind. In audio form, short stories become podcast-like and I adore podcasts. Kelly Link’s Get In Trouble was a great starter collection. All of the stories could be classified as magical realism (which I love already) and are extremely well-written. Even the stories that didn’t gel with me had one or two elements to admire. Magical elements aside, each of Link’s stories is about humanity.
My favorite story, Two Houses, takes place on a spaceship with a group of astronauts searching for a new planet to call home. They get together for a celebration and decide to tell each other ghost stories as entertainment. I won’t give away what happens, but Link masterfully lets the tension ramp up while using symbolism to parallel the ghost stories to their own lives.
Two other stories, Secret Identity and Origin Story, seem to take place in the same comic book-like universe. Superheros and their nemesis are everywhere and people regularly apply for sidekick positions. In Secret Identity, a 15-year-old girl from Iowa travels to Manhattan to meet up with a much older man she’s been catfishing. Things don’t go to plan and the story deals with the messy aftermath. In Origin Story, a woman and her childhood friend turned superhero reconnect and spend a lazy day together in the middle of nowhere. Either of those stories could have easily turned trite, but the characters and their very human feelings and motivations make the stories fresh and interesting.
There’s lots to love in these stories. I could also see this book being a great cure for a book hangover. Reading Get In Trouble really made me want to seek out more of Kelly Link’s writing. The stories were good on their own, but as a collection, they all elevated each other to create something bigger than the sum of its parts.