Today, we are pleased to review two very different February books. In Laura van den Berg’s debut novel Find Me, a deadly epidemic that causes people to lose their memories has swept the nation, and the book’s narrator, Joy, is immune to the disease. Kim Winternheimer writes: “Find Me isn’t a commentary on the fluidity or reliability of memory, but is more a rumination on how memories act as anchors to the present.” Get in Trouble, Kelly Link’s fourth collection, combines genres and disparate cultural tropes to show us just how fun the short story can be. From fake Ghost Boyfriends to ghost stories told in outer space, Link’s stories surprise, thrill, and (often) terrify. These two books are not to be missed.
Celebrated short story writer and author, Laura van den Berg’s debut novel Find Me contemplates memory, loss, and identity in the same stunning prose we’ve come to know and value in her previous two collections.
In the hospital where Joy Jones was abandoned as a child, the nurses grew tired of a nameless baby so they named her Joy. Van den Berg writes: “The symmetry of the name has never suited me.” As an adult, Joy lives in a windowless basement apartment and works the overnight shift at a grocery store, numbing it all away by drinking cherry-flavored cough syrup. But joylessness isn’t the only paradox clinging to Joy. She is immune to a deadly epidemic that has swept the nation. One that begins with silver blisters on the skin and ends in memory loss and death. And while Joy’s memory is never at risk from the disease, there is a period of her life she can’t remember, a time when she was eight and living in a foster home that is shrouded in mystery. “One day I was nine years old…. It was like waking up from, or into, a dream.”
Kelly Link’s stories have been published in literary magazines such as McSweeney’s and A Public Space and the anthologies The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of The Year and Hauntings, to name a few. They have been described as “creepy little wonders” and “ . . . a beguiling and eerie blend of fairy tale, fantasy, Ray Bradbury, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and categorized as “[floating] eerily in a midpoint between cool realism and dark science fiction” and “post-strange.” But what they are, first and foremost, are quality short stories—they take advantage of fiction’s ability to create new worlds and honor this power with depth and detail. Get in Trouble, Link’s fourth collection, shows us all that the short story can accomplish. Astronauts tell ghost stories in outer space. A girl’s fake Ghost Boyfriend is haunted by real spirits. Actors famous for playing vampires in movies are haunted by a ghost. There are pocket universes. Some children are born with no shadow, and some children are born with two. Superheroes appear in multiple tales. With each story, the atmosphere changes. You step into a different, fully formed, highly textured world.