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White Cat, Black Dog: Stories - Kelly Link

White Cat, Black Dog: Stories - Kelly Link

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Victoria recommends! Selkie Book Club August '24 pick. Seven ingeniously reinvented fairy tales that play out with astonishing consequences in the modern world, from one of today's finest short story writers—MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow Kelly Link, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Get in Trouble.

Finding seeds of inspiration in the Brothers Grimm, seventeenth-century French lore, and Scottish ballads, Kelly Link spins classic fairy tales into utterly original stories of seekers—characters on the hunt for love, connection, revenge, or their own sense of purpose.

In “The White Cat’s Divorce,” an aging billionaire sends his three sons on a series of absurd goose chases to decide which will become his heir. In “The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear,” a professor with a delicate health condition becomes stranded for days in an airport hotel after a conference, desperate to get home to her wife and young daughter, and in acute danger of being late for an appointment that cannot be missed. In “Skinder’s Veil,” a young man agrees to take over a remote house-sitting gig for a friend. But what should be a chance to focus on his long-avoided dissertation instead becomes a wildly unexpected journey, as the house seems to be a portal for otherworldly travelers—or perhaps a door into his own mysterious psyche.

Twisting and winding in astonishing ways, expertly blending realism and the speculative, witty, empathetic, and never predictable—these stories remind us once again of why Kelly Link is incomparable in the art of short fiction.

By Kelly Link. Paperback. 272 pages. Published by Penguin Random House, 2023.

Victoria's thoughts: Kelly Link is a rare, strange talent, and I find myself half-wondering if she's got some sort of a deal worked out with the Fair Folk. This short story collection delivers again and again with each and every word. Link has an incredible ability to find the underlying patterns in all of human storytelling across culture and language and time. From this well of folklore, she extracts a shining, silver thread, and expertly weaves a skittering new beast. These stories aren't fairytale retellings in the way many readers are used to--instead, they are our oldest truths and our just-told stories at once. This collection is dazzling, spellbinding and shimmering. I could happily drown in Link's worlds, as brief and startling as they may be. 
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