I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite story out of this collection of stories. I'm torn between The Hortlack, Stone Animals, Catskin and Some Zombie Contingency Plans. The title story Magic for Beginners was my first Link story but since it was also featured in Pretty Monsters and picked out as my favourite it would not be fair to the other stories to single it out again.
I love these stories so much and am left pondering so many questions.
These stories harkened back to me my youth of '90s indie films, a little offbeat and quirky but unique and grabs your soul. Your heart comes off wiser and your head has something to chew on.
There is some magical realism to them where the best aspect of Paul Auster or Murakami were the stories they teased you with but never told. Kelly Link delivers on those dark and twisted aspects I wanted to read but was so frustrated with Auster for not giving me.
The Hortlack- What exactly was Batu planning for his revolutionised retail plan? I almost wish the All-Night was a real place. I work nights and am stuck with a boring Kangaroo or Wal-mart if I want to go anywhere. Kelly Link made the Canadians seem sinister and not that different from Zombies. But anyone who works retail already feels this way about customers. Batu must be up to something to not mind customers.
I adored Charley but did not want to dwell too much on her having to kill those dogs. The idea of her car having ghost dogs was both sad and cool.
Poor Eric. He was the right tone of shy affability and slackerness.
Stone Animals- I did not quite understand the ending but that did not bother me. I loved the imagery of the stone rabbits or angry rabbits smashing their feet underground.
Poor Catherine did not save her marriage pretending to have an affair but destroyed it. My theory is the family itself was ruined more or less not haunted.
Some Zombie Contingency Plans- Who doesn't have one? Mine is to rest on my laurels because I know a bit about the actor John Malkovich. I plan on showing up at my former boss' house since she spends so much time planning for the Zombie Apocalypse. I'll rehash some fact or reenact a movie scene much like Fahrenheit 451. I'll enjoy their canning and homemade laundry detergent in exchange for my Malkovich knowledge.
I should probably think up something to do with icebergs just in case. Soap's friend Mike, who he went to prison with, says people don't plan enough for icebergs.
Malkovich was in the film Alive where Ethan Hawke had to eat his fellow plane crash survivors in the Andies. Does this count? There was a lot of frostbite. I get to be just as lazy and show up to narrate a bit about what my younger self went through.
Did he kidnap the little brother in the end?
Catskin- I liked the different moral plane you lived on reading this story. The witches stole children and buried houses on top of cats and objectively you could see someone wanting to stop them...
On the other hand, poor Small, the ultimate Mama's Boy, loved his mother. My favourite bit was that he wasn't really that young but still slept in bed with his mother.
Small's detail of earning the kids trust by reenacting the way kitties play by pretending to allow them to come near him was adorable.
Witches are nasty as they are in old tales like Babi Yaga with bones, skin and hair.