Magic for Beginners
Kelly Link, the book's back cover says, lives in Northampton, Massachusetts where I used to live. It would have been wonderful to meet her and talk about wonderful things like Faery Handbags. But then again maybe it's better to read about Faery Handbags, because as she writes, "Meeting writers is usually disappointing at best."
Faery Handbags is the title of the first short story in this captivating book and while it stands out as the shiniest gem in the bunch, the others are enjoyable too in their descriptions and tales told about zombies and the people who wear cat skins. I am always drawn to writers who notice the minor things that make up life, and sometimes the things that make it seem worth living. Link notices Cadbury Creme eggs, Moon Pies and (perhaps invents) squeezeble pork (which, while not something I would enjoy others might), with the best of them (I remember first noticing such slight mentions of everyday things that fill our lives in Douglas Coupland's books). Link arrives at truisms in her stories with moments in thrift stores and with friends and families, truisms that we all need to be reminded of sometimes, and truisms we hope are indeed true.
1- "I used to go to thrift stores with my friends. ... Everything is arranged by color, somehow that makes all of the clothes beautiful."
2- "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."
5- faery handbag
7- "purse big enough to hold all of the village and all of the people..."
8- "Even nightmares have to sleep now and then."
9- "He was still way too smart, but he was finally smart enough to figure out how to fit in."
11- "It's better to cook what I want to eat, and clean up when I decide to clean up."
12- "I also know how to say I love you, but I'm not going to ever say it to anyone again, except Jake, when I find him.
14- Cadbury Creme egg
20- "Remember when you don't know what to do, it never hurts to play Scrabble."
37- squeezable pork, Moon Pies
39- "The customer isn't always right. Sometimes the customer is an asshole."
52- "'Nobody ever really knows what they want,' Charley said. 'Why should that change after you die?'"
65- "Summer is the time of ghosts. In winter, ghosts are easy to spot."
-"There is no word for war or travel."
119- "her mother has painted a little door. It isn't a real door, except when Tilly goes over to look at it, it is real."
129- "The witch vomits up...love letters (mislabeled or sent without the appropriate amount of postage and never read)..."
137- "And when you have children you need houses to put them in."
161- "'Do you like museums?' Will says. She looks like a girl who goes to museums."
170- "Modern art is a wast of time. When the zombies show up you can't worry about art. Art is for people who aren't worried about zombies."
170-171- things Soap has been thinking about
171- Busby Berkeley
176- "Everyone has a zombie contingency plan."
179- "He doesn't belong anywhere."
206- orange-juice colored corduroy couch
207- "What kind of television shows the characters in television shows watch."
-"She's an enigma wrapped in a mysterious t-shirt."
208- "When the woman who invented Hello Kitty was asked why Hello Kitty was so popular, she said, 'Because she has no mouth.'"
212- Velveeta-and-pickle sandwich
218- "Can I ask you a question?"
220- Meeting writers...
235- "It would be easier if I had a brother ...Or a sister. I'm tired of being good all the time. If I had a sibling, then we could take turns being good...but it sucks having to figure out everything all by myself."
236- (calls to the phone booth) J. "complains about all the things there are to complain about, and the silent person on the other end listens and listens."
243- (Talis) "Somebody has to be the person who doesn't [talk]. The person who listens."
244- "Except secrets can't have secrets, they just are."
250- "Bob Dylan is singing about monkeys."
251- "He writes in his blog about what he's reading."
256- "...I didn't get any postcards."
262- "Imaginary houses are sexy. Real houses are work."
278- "Tell me a story so that I'll remember you."
297- "I love you, but it's not about love, Ed, it's about timing."