The next two selections from the books of yore are both from Small Beer Press. They are both also long-returned to the library so please try to bear the pale, faded qualities of these reviews.
book 36: Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
I really enjoyed this book of short stories. I especially enjoyed one about a convenience store on the edge of the known world, where the management has turned against consumerism and the counter staff lives in the storage room. It asks the question “where do I go from here” and stops short of giving the answer, but remains satisfying. I also like Link’s use of details- a Turkish lesson, a sweater, qualities of night and day. The main character is young and lost and knows it, but is not celebrated for it. I am not a fan of idolizing 20-something confusion, especially when it is done humorlessly.
Anywho, the rest of the stories are a grab bag of fable-ish tales of loss and abandon, and how one can sometimes lead to the other. Especially fine is a story about a family that moves into a house that infects its residents with hauntedness. The ending has kind of a misplaced bang to it, but I loved Link’s exploration of what happens when something or someone you love is all of a sudden wrong.
When I finished I felt surprisingly eerie. I think I read the stories too quickly and some of the magic wore off on me and turned sour. If you are a sensitive type, this book isn’t for your lunch hour.
book 37: Meet Me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich
On a Small Beer bender, I immediately launched into Meet Me in the Moon Room, a book of stories with many of the same characteristics as Magic for Beginners. Here, though, the unconventional conventions of the not-quite-fantasy tale wore thin and eventually rubbed me the wrong way.
Many of Vukcevich’s stories in this book are quite short which makes them easy to just plow through. Instead of enjoying each story, I found myself with heightened expectations for each successive story, wanting it to top or be very different from the last one. This never happened. I also remember that there were a few details that reoccurred often in this collection—blondes being one of them. It seemed old-fashioned and bad, somehow.
I think that if I had read one or two of these in a magazine or anthology they might have seemed like a fresh take on modern domestic stories. Instead, they just smothered me and I lost interest in doing more with the stories than just finishing them.
I’m sorry to mention that after Girl Stories, I cannot remember any of the books I’ve read since, much less their order. Since Blogger swallowed my blog a few weeks back, I’ve been working on the sidebar. Now I am finished with the exception of the missing books. I think there were only four or so. Any clues would be appreciated.