Stranger Things Happen
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Stranger Things Happen

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  2,837 ratings  ·  402 reviews
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 gi...more
Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Small Beer Press (first published 2001)
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Mike (the Paladin)
I sort of feel I should apologize for this rating. I picked this up on the strength of some good ratings and reviews here. But I just didn't like this book. I don't mean to be hard to get along with, but I found the stories rather silly.

Again, I'm sorry if you like this book and please enjoy...

I wanted to like this book. Based on what I'd read I picked it up ready for some enjoyable weird stories. The first one left me cold...the "dead man" exploring his situation (and also his genitals. This...more
Ori
This book will sleep with you on the first date. Then when you wake up beside it in the early morning you will spend some serious time considering whether it was great, or whether it would have been better to wait a bit.

For me it was a bit wild, which I like, from a book, but also a little cold, a little impersonal. This book may have issues with nymphomania. It's definately ready and willing to give you a thrill, but even though you've spent some time with it, it still doesn't quite love you ba...more
Ian
The only reason I finished this book is because I read Magic for beginners first and I liked that one slightly more than this collection.
In the end, I guess Link just isn't for me. I like my stories to make sense, to have some internal logic and structure I can follow and, possibly, an ending or a hint of an explanation my mind can work upon.
Link's stories instead feel to me more like a dream - scenes, images, moments where time slows down like molasses or jumps all over the place, where stran...more
Punk
Short Stories. This was stamped "science fiction" by the library, but these short, fantastic stories have more in common with magical realism and retold fairy tales than science- or even speculative fiction. Plenty of ghosts, being dead, being haunted, dating a son of Zeus, searching for the lover that the Snow Queen stole away -- that sort of thing.

Written with a light hand, these stories are bittersweet, spooky, absurd, crazy, and freeing. Each one is perfectly self-contained, but taken toget...more
Evgeny
This is a collection of urban fantasy stories with weird twists - and I do mean weird. Think what would happen if David Lynch wrote some urban fantasy. Actually in the beginning I was almost sure it WAS David Lynch writing under a pseudonym, but later I realized this is just too weird for him.

As for the stories themselves, they range from horror to urban fantasy to fairy tales retelling - and all are as strange as they can be. A word of warning: if you think the first story is unusual (for the...more
Melanie
Jamie Quatro ruined me for ballsy contemporary short fiction, she set the bar with 'I Want To Show You More', and Miranda July is up there too.

I really wanted to love this, but it's just a tad too cute, light and just very detached. Props for mischief, enjoy some sass and comedy - but otherwise, meh. Just not my cup of milo.



Candiss
I really love Kelly Link's writing style. It falls somewhere between magical realist and full-blown surreal, and it manages to be very emotionally affecting without sacrificing subtlety. It is frequently surprising, often delightful, occasionally horrific. Link can get me to agree to suspend my disbelief in some of the most wildly imaginative and implausible situations, and she has a real knack for being gently disturbing.

However, I am only giving this collection, Link's earliest, (which focuses...more
Debnance
A book of surreal short stories that would vie with Hurakami for the strangest stories I’ve ever read. Unlike Hurakami, however, there is no Kafkaesque feeling of alienation; the odd people in these stories seem generally content with the craziness of their lives. What kind of stories are these? Here’s a list from the back cover: “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...more
Glenn Zorpette
The stories are unusual and not at all predictable. But they're dull. They seem to have been written to impress critics or other authors with their strangeness. The author seems to delight in showing us how clever and creative she can be. For example, there's lots of cute but ultimately meaningless word play. Unfortunately, the stories are not compelling or engrossing at all.
Regarding its favorable reviews: I'd say there's a major "Emperor's New Clothes" effect with this book. To compare her wit...more
Res
I'm afraid there's a sameness to Link's writing. Grotesquerie, quirky refusal of all resolution. It's a delight for one story (especially when you encounter it somewhere like F&SF, surrounded by the trite and self-serious) but in a collection it quickly becomes annoying.

Favorite stories: "The Specialist's Hat," "The Girl Detective."
Elena
2.5 stars. I was tempted to give this three stars, because a lot of my reaction wasn't that these stories were bad, just that they weren't for me. But boy, were they not for me.

My first exposure to Kelly Link's writing was through her YA collection Pretty Monsters: Stories. I loved it. "Magic for Beginners" is still one of my all-time favorite stories. So I was excited to read her two adult collections, this and Magic for Beginners. I started with this, her earlier collection, and proceeded to b...more
Leah
"Stranger Things Happen" is Kelly Link's freshman work of fiction. Within it are eleven exquisitely crafted short stories which range from weird to the truly bizarre. It is difficult to categorize Link's writing, as it seems to straddle science fiction and fantasy, narrative and fiction, real and unreal.

"The Specialist's Hat" is really one of the spookiest stories I have ever read. It is loosely written (as are many of the stories), which - rather than impeding the text - makes it easier to adap...more
Dan
"Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious. "

That was funny in Ferris Buehler's Day off. It was just a couple lines. Now imagine an entire book done in that same sort of frantic voice. No real authority or ownership of the events that happened, just a string of hearsay from a high school girl. If you can do that, you unders...more
Jamie
Oct 2010: It may sound strange but I love the twitchy ambiguities of October, and to wit, there are certain— whatever you call them— requirements, traditions— cravings?— I indulge from year to year. As soon as there are cinders and smoke in the air and the nights turn all crisp and inky, I stay up past midnight with the windows open out over the farm and read “Water Off A Black Dog’s Back.”

Like a kid who doesn’t believe in anything, ghost stories are the best.
________________

Sept 2009: If you e...more
Rachael Sherwood
Kelly Link is one of those authors that, if she wrote novel length fiction, I think would be held up alongside Neil Gaiman as one of the greatest living writers and inspire similarly devoted and obsessed fans.

But her wheelhouse is the short story, and this is no country for short story writers. Still, she has her own cult following of devoted fans, and their passionate recommendations drove me to picking up this collection.

I liked this collection a lot. There are a few duds, as in most short s...more
Jeanne
May 12, 2008 Jeanne rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanne by: Jim
Shelves: own
This book of short stories was in danger of getting 1 star right out of the gate. The first story, "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," annoyed me so much (Matilda? Ivy? Alicia?) I didn't even finish it. But by the last story I had warmed up a bit to the writer's style.

I've never enjoyed the short story format, so the book had a strike against it to begin with. It just seems to me that short story authors are always trying to prove something to the reader -- how witty they are or what clever character...more
Justine
I picked up this book because Amazon told me I would like it. Being that I trust their algorithm more than I trust most of my family members, I did it.

Kelly Link's collection of short stories ran the gamut between being successful and kind of pointless. While the concept is interesting: take folktales, fairy tales, ghost stories, etc. and smush with contemporary narrators or situations. Hijinks and fun imagery ensue.

The stories I found to be the most successful were those that had a more disti...more
Renee
Kelly Link is a little...bizarre. Well, more than a little bizarre. Halfway through the first story (Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose), I realized that I was in for a weird ride. At the time, I was a bit uncertain as to whether or not I wanted to be on a weird ride, but in the end, things were mostly good. A couple of stories ran on (hence three stars rather than four), but on the whole Link has created a great collection. My favorite was probably Most of My Friends are Two-Thirds Water, a title whic...more
Richard
Short review: Kelly Link has an original and truly odd vision. Her stories are at times vivid and tightly wound, and other times the stories themselves are overcome by the experiments in style. Some stories left me exhilarated (jealous, really), especially "Water Off a Black Dogs Back", "The Specialist's Hat" "Vanishing Act", and "Survivor's Ball". Link is wonderful when she's weird, and many of her descriptions are just perfect. I skipped a few stories, but only because I have no interest in fa...more
Angela Alcorn
My interest came from this article on stories that scare the hell out of authors, in which Joe Hill pointed to the story The Specialist's Hat (available to read for free).

I read the Specialist's Hat first, but then went on to the rest of the stories. The whole thing is free as an ebook on Goodreads.

All in all, this is a very strange collection of very strange stories. Most of them I expect will stick in my mind for years to come.
JSA Lowe
Four and a HALF stars really, probably mostly because it's been so long since I've read Angela Carter. These are just perfect. Admirable too the way each story slots itself into the whole collection, and they tie together in tiny subtle ways that make this reader's heart lurch with happiness whenever she spotted one. Everyone to whom I talk about Link also says they envy her; she's one of those writers. I wish I owned a copy of this book, to reread and (someday) to teach from. And when it says S...more
Debbie
Rather brilliant, I'm sure, stories that were horror and/or fantasy themed, but in Link's attempt to be literary I'm afraid she lost me on a number of the tales. There were a few that I quite fancied (the Snow Queen one, in particular) but the ones that left me scratching my head outnumbered them. I recommend you give it a try, especially considering it's published free under a Creative Commons License. Someone more sophisticated than me would probably appreciate it more.
A.K.
Unabashedly girly, experimental, tender, genius. It took a few stories for me to get into Link but I think... I think I love her like I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and four day old tres leches cake with black coffee, all things sweet and sneaky and spooky.
Kendra Recht
I'm a big fan of Kelly Link. She's beyond imaginative, a unique and very talented writer, and I feel, sometimes, as though the essence of my writing and hers isn't that much different. I absolutely loved her second collection, Magic for Beginners, and although I liked some of the stories in Stranger Things Happen, as a whole it didn't have the same sort of impact that other book had for me.

I particularly loved "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," "Flying Lessons," "Vanishing Act" and "Survivors' Ball,...more
James
Kelly Link’s collection of short stories is like a black cauldron bubbling forth archetypes of adolescent reading—from ghost stories, science fiction, myths, Nancy Drew—collectively reconstrued as a literature of loss and longing. In these tales, a dead man who can’t remember names mails letters to his wife from a spectral beach resort, a librarian falls for an enigmatic girl from a family tragically marked by loss (of, e.g., legs and noses), twin girls living in a haunted house with their haunt...more
Kirsten
I liked this book, but I wasn't expecting to have to work as hard as I did. When I pick up James Joyce or Thomas Pynchon (which I don't...I'm just giving examples of non-linear, postmodern, absurd, abstract prose) I expect to have a little trouble understanding the themes, the characters or even the plot. I did not think that picking up a collection of short stories by someone I've never heard of would have me so flummoxed. Maybe I didn't read carefully enough? That's very possible. Or maybe the...more
Alana
If you suspect that you might be an ordinary person, one without creativity or imagination... well, then Stranger Things Happen might not appeal to you to begin with, but it certainly won't make you feel any better about your imaginative state. Even if you think you are a fairly creative person, it's hard to believe that you could come close the level of the fantastic and fascinating that Kelly Link achieves in these eleven short stories. A strange combination of fantasy and very modern reality,...more
Sarah Laing
I do so love Kelly Link. She is just so unique and funny and weird. And very contemporary - or at least to my eye. She is one of those writers that I wish I could write like. She has this love of fairy tales, ghost stories and pop culture that she mashes together in the most surprising ways. There are hairy ghosts trapped in cellos and tin noses, hats with teeth and girls that used to be dogs. There is even a story set in New Zealand, about an end-of-days party in a hotel in Milford Sound. I rea...more
Vinicius
This book is amazing, cray cray bizarre but amazing. Terrifying and beautiful!

There's a mix of horror, fantasy, magic, mystery, fairy tale... Even teenage romance (if we're allowed to call THAT teenage romance - I think it's safe).
I think what I liked the most about this collection is how the author manages to talk about the supernatural/mystical as if it was the most ordinary thing, such as frying some eggs for breakfast - no big deal, right? And then, when she talks about the ordinary, frying...more
Jessica Andersen
Stranger Things Happen is a collection of short stories by one of the authors off of my best female sci-fi/fantasy author list on my blog. Kelly Link's stories are strange and wonderful tales. Reading them feels like you're dreaming them instead. And, even though there isn't necessarily a single theme, you read one and think, that was strange. You read the next story and then the title makes sense, because almost invariably, stranger things happen in the next story than in the one before it.

My...more
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Favorite & Least Favorite Stories in this book 4 49 Jan 15, 2013 05:32AM  
Open Books Chicago: Volunteer Review: Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link 1 3 Aug 29, 2012 06:58AM  
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Kelly Link is an American author of short stories born in 1969. Her stories might be described as slipstream or magic realism: sometimes a combination of science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, and realism.
More about Kelly Link...
Magic for Beginners Pretty Monsters: Stories Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet Trampoline: An Anthology

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“You were going to travel for love, without shoes, or cloak, or common sense. This is one of the things a woman can do when her lover leaves her. It's hard on the feet perhaps, but staying at home is hard on the heart, and you weren't quite ready to give up on him yet.” 17 likes
“This is the list you carry in your pocket, of the things you plan to say to Kay, when you find him, if you find him:

1. I’m sorry that I forgot to water your ferns while you were away that time.
2. When you said that I reminded you of your mother, was that a good thing?
3. I never really liked your friends all that much.
4. None of my friends ever really liked you.
5. Do you remember when the cat ran away, and I cried and cried and made you put up posters, and she never came back? I wasn’t crying because she didn’t come back. I was crying because I’d taken her to the woods, and I was scared she’d come back and tell you what I’d done, but I guess a wolf got her, or something. She never liked me anyway.
6. I never liked your mother.
7. After you left, I didn’t water your plants on purpose. They’re all dead.
8. Goodbye.
9. Were you ever really in love with me?
10. Was I good in bed, or just average?
11. What exactly did you mean, when you said that it was fine that I had put on a little weight, that you thought I was even more beautiful, that I should go ahead and eat as much as I wanted, but when I weighed myself on the bathroom scale, I was exactly the same weight as before, I hadn’t gained a single pound?
12. So all those times, I’m being honest here, every single time, and anyway I don’t care if you don’t believe me, I faked every orgasm you ever thought I had. Women can do that, you know. You never made me come, not even once.
13. So maybe I’m an idiot, but I used to be in love with you.
14. I slept with some guy, I didn’t mean to, it just kind of happened. Is that how it was with you? Not that I’m making any apologies, or that I’d accept yours, I just want to know.
15. My feet hurt, and it’s all your fault.
16. I mean it this time, goodbye.”
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