This first collection by award-winning author Kelly Link, takes fairy tales and cautionary tales, dictators and extraterrestrials, amnesiacs and honeymooners, revenants and readers alike, on a voyage into new, strange, and wonderful territory. The girl detective must go to the underworld to solve the case of the tap-dancing bank robbers. A librarian falls in love with a girl whose father collects artificial noses. A dead man posts letters home to his estranged wife. Two women named Louise begin a series of consecutive love affairs with a string of cellists. A newly married couple become participants in an apocalyptic beauty pageant. Sexy blond aliens invade New York City. A young girl learns how to make herself disappear.
These eleven extraordinary stories are quirky, spooky, and smart. They all have happy endings. Every story contains a secret prize. Each story was written especially for you.
When you’re Dead,” Samantha says, “you don’t have to brush your teeth . . .”
“When you’re Dead,” Claire says, “you live in a box, and it’s always dark, but you’re not ever afraid.”
Claire and Samantha are identical twins. Their combined age is twenty years, four months, and six days. Claire is better at being Dead than Samantha.
The babysitter yawns, covering up her mouth with a long white hand. “I said to brush your teeth and that it’s time for bed,” she says. She sits crosslegged on the flowered bedspread between them. She has been teaching them a card game called Pounce, which involves three decks of cards, one for each of them. Samantha’s deck is missing the Jack of Spades and the Two of Hearts, and Claire keeps on cheating. The babysitter wins anyway. There are still flecks of dried shaving cream and toilet paper on her arms. It is hard to tell how old she is—at first they thought she must be a grownup, but now she hardly looks older than they. Samantha has forgotten the babysitter’s name.
Claire’s face is stubborn. “When you’re Dead,” she says, “you stay up all night long.”
“When you’re dead,” the babysitter snaps, “it’s always very cold and damp, and you have to be very, very quiet or else the Specialist will get you.”
“This house is haunted,” Claire says.
“I know it is,” the babysitter says. “I used to live here.”“This house is haunted,” Claire says.
“I know it is,” the babysitter says. “I used to live here.”
Something is creeping up the stairs,
Something is standing outside the door,
Something is sobbing, sobbing in the dark;
Something is sighing across the floor.
Claire and Samantha are spending the summer with their father, in the house called Eight Chimneys. Their mother is dead. She has been dead for exactly 282 days.
Their father is writing a history of Eight Chimneys and of the poet Charles Cheatham Rash, who lived here at the turn of the century, and who ran away to sea when he was thirteen, and returned when he was thirty-eight. He married, fathered a child, wrote three volumes of bad, obscure poetry, and an even worse and more obscure novel, The One Who is Watching Me Through the Window, before disappearing again in 1907, this time for good. Samantha and Claire’s father says that some of the poetry is actually quite readable and at least the novel isn’t very long.
When Samantha asked him why he was writing about Rash, he replied that no one else had and why didn’t she and Samantha go play outside. When she pointed out that she was Samantha, he just scowled and said how could he be expected to tell them apart when they both wore blue jeans and flannel shirts, and why couldn’t one of them dress all in green and the other in pink?