Get in Trouble

6 of 17
Get in Trouble
352 pages; Random House
"The sky was always falling," thinks a 38-year-old alcoholic on her way to a nervous breakdown. She has a Beretta decorated with Hello Kitty stickers and a wayward alien husband, yet is one of the more well-adjusted characters in Get in Trouble, Kelly Link's sensational volume of short fiction.

Alien husband aside, the terms science fiction and magical realism do not do this collection justice. But how exactly to classify stories featuring a demon lover and a giant blood bubble sipping a cocktail in a hotel lobby? Not that the author cares about labels. When traditional publishing houses rejected her early collections, Link printed them through her and her husband's own small press, becoming a short-fiction folk hero. Get in Trouble is something of a victory lap, combining eight previously published knockouts with one new story about a gay couple trapped at the destination wedding from hell, while back on the mainland their child is born prematurely.

Moonshiners, astronauts, super-villains sculpted from butter, Floridians—Link's characters span genres, time periods and dimensions. What connects them is a shared sense of imprisonment. Amid outlandish locales and sci-fi nightmares, Link explores familial ties that bind and the aching truth that like her characters, we all are trapped in our own stories.

So is there a way out? The marooned fathers-to-be find solace in each other until a boat arrives. As for the 30-something alcoholic, a hurricane rips apart her front yard, opening a hole into a parallel universe. She staggers out of her wrecked home and is faced with a choice: stay in her old life, or pack spare underwear and gin and set forth into a new world. Each of these stories presents the reader with the same setup: Remain in your narrative comfort zone, or venture into Link's uncharted sea of troubles.

Come on. Live a little.
— Natalie Beach