Magic for Beginners
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by Kelly Link
Category: Fantasy/Mainstream Bram Stoker Award Finalist, Locus Poll Award Winner, Nebula Award(R) Winner
Description: Magic for Beginners is the highly anticipated second collection by Kelly Link (Stranger Things Happen). Link's stories are engaging and funny--call them kitchen-sink magical realism. They riff on haunted convenience stores, husbands and wives, rabbits, zombies, weekly apocalyptic poker parties, witches, superheroes, marriage, and cannons. Link is an original voice--no one else writes stories quite like these. Magic for Beginners includes several new stories as well as work previously published in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, Conjunctions, and The Dark. "Stone Animals" is forthcoming in The Best American Short Stories.
eBook Publisher: Small Beer Press, 2005 2005
eBookwise Release Date: December 2008
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [439 KB]
Reading time: 267-375 min.
Advance praise for Magic for Beginners:
"Highly original."--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Spellbinding."--Time Out Chicago
"A complete delight."--Locus
"An eagerly-awaited new collection of thoughtfully strange tales that sprinkle the mundane with pixie dust, a dash of old-fashioned tragedy and a bit of gallows humor."--The Ruminator Review
"Hilarious, sometimes disconcerting, Link's stories demonstrate her wicked sense of humor and genius wit."--BookPage
"Link is the purest, most distinctive surrealist in America."--Booklist
The Faery Handbag
I used to go to thrift stores with my friends. We'd take the train into Boston, and go to The Garment District, which is this huge vintage clothing warehouse. Everything is arranged by color, and somehow that makes all of the clothes beautiful. It's kind of like if you went through the wardrobe in the Narnia books, only instead of finding Aslan and the White Witch and horrible Eustace, you found this magic clothing world--instead of talking animals, there were feather boas and wedding dresses and bowling shoes, and paisley shirts and Doc Martens and everything hung up on racks so that first you have black dresses, all together, like the world's largest indoor funeral, and then blue dresses--all the blues you can imagine--and then red dresses and so on. Pink reds and orangey reds and purple reds and exit-light reds and candy reds. Sometimes I would close my eyes and Natasha and Natalie and Jake would drag me over to a rack, and rub a dress against my hand. "Guess what color this is."
We had this theory that you could learn how to tell, just by feeling, what color something was. For example, if you're sitting on a lawn, you can tell what color green the grass is, with your eyes closed, depending on how silky-rubbery it feels. With clothing, stretchy velvet stuff always feels red when your eyes are closed, even if it's not red. Natasha was always best at guessing colors, but Natasha is also best at cheating at games and not getting caught.
One time we were looking through kids' T-shirts and we found a Muppets T-shirt that had belonged to Natalie in third grade. We knew it belonged to her, because it still had her name inside, where her mother had written it in permanent marker when Natalie went to summer camp. Jake bought it back for her, because he was the only one who had money that weekend. He was the only one who had a job.
Maybe you're wondering what a guy like Jake is doing in The Garment District with a bunch of girls. The thing about Jake is that he always has a good time, no matter what he's doing. He likes everything, and he likes everyone, but he likes me best of all. Wherever he is now, I bet he's having a great time and wondering when I'm going to show up. I'm always running late. But he knows that.
We had this theory that things have life cycles, the way that people do. The life cycle of wedding dresses and feather boas and T-shirts and shoes and handbags involves The Garment District. If clothes are good, or even if they're bad in an interesting way, The Garment District is where they go when they die. You can tell that they're dead, because of the way that they smell. When you buy them, and wash them, and start wearing them again, and they start to smell like you, that's when they reincarnate. But the point is, if you're looking for a particular thing, you just have to keep looking for it. You have to look hard.
Down in the basement at The Garment District they sell clothing and beat-up suitcases and teacups by the pound. You can get eight pounds' worth of prom dresses--a slinky black dress, a poufy lavender dress, a swirly pink dress, a silvery, starry lamé dress so fine you could pass it through a key ring--for eight dollars. I go there every week, hunting for Grandmother Zofia's faery handbag.
The faery handbag: It's huge and black and kind of hairy. Even when your eyes are closed, it feels black. As black as black ever gets, like if you touch it, your hand might get stuck in it, like tar or black quicksand or when you stretch out your hand at night, to turn on a light, but all you feel is darkness.
Fairies live inside it. I know what that sounds like, but it's true.