On Thursday, Word Bookstore in Jersey City was flooded with humans I would like to impress. All came to hear the audacious and wise short story sorceress, Kelly Link, read from her latest collection, titled Get In Trouble. The amiable Lev Grossman, buzz-worthy author of The Magicians, served as interlocutor.
Link admitted to an appreciation for YA and proposed that “young adult fiction is basically adult fiction except the characters aren’t quite grown up yet.” Michael Grant’s spooky Gone series, especially the novel titled Hunger, caught Ms. Link’s attention.
The topic shifted. “Your characters lead very unhealthy lives,” Grossman quipped. “There’s a lot of throwing up in the book.”
“When I was growing up I loved horror movies,” Link replied. “I’d go and wait for the vomit scene. For example, there’s a movie called The Hitcher. C. Thomas Howell eats a plate of fries and discovers a finger. He vomits emphatically. It’s a demanding role.”
Grossman admitted to a distaste for horror films, although he did like Ridley Scott’s Alien. Link’s favorite scary movie? Hideo Nakata’s terrifying Ringu, which was rebooted for American audiences in 2002 as The Ring, starring Naomi Watts. Link and Grossman agreed that recent superhero movies left something to be desired. “I’m sure Batman smells terrible,” she pointed out.
On the subject of comic books, Link claimed she had learned to like them when she first encountered Cerebus the Aardvark – “but there isn’t really a market for funny animal stories.”
The title of her latest book derived from a phrase mentioned in one of its stories. “‘Get in trouble’ seemed to sum up the position of the characters.” Link paused. “For a while I was going to call it ‘Novel.'” The audience laughed, and – dear reader – I could not help but chuckle myself.
Perhaps her most honest comments were given towards the end of the evening. In response to a question about her writing process, Link said her goal was “to make the reader do as much work as possible. I like to have as few signposts for the reader as possible.” As a story begins to come together, Link considers “what the story could be about? …Then I think about how I might submerge that as deeply as possible. Because some meaning will always float to the surface.”