Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Report: The Girl Detective


Remember this morning when I said that Kelly Link's story "The Girl Detective" was a bit of a puzzler? Well, it still is. I've read it several times over the years and am still not 100% sure what's going on. The girl detective is both a specific girl and possibly anyone else, including yourself. She's a master of disguise, you see. As the reader, you're left to collect clues and puzzle out the meaning...if there is one. OK, there probably is one. Kelly Link is big on games and weirdness and hidden meanings and allusions to classic myths and fairy tales. And this story has all of that in spades...

"The Girl Detective" is a mash-up of two other stories: "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" by the Brothers Grimm and the Greek myth of Persephone--only reversed so the daughter (played here by the girl detective) is heading into the underworld to search for her mother. Nothing is certain in "The Girl Detective", except  that people go to the underworld to dance with pretty girls and search for lost things, like seventh grade homework and socks and albino alligators and mothers. 


The underworld.

Think of the underworld as the back of your closet, behind all those racks of clothes that you don't wear anymore. Things are always getting pushed back there and forgotten about. The underworld is full of things that you've forgotten about. Some of them, if only you could remember, you might want to take them back. Trips to the underworld are always very nostalgic. It's darker in there. The seasons don't match. Mostly people end up there by accident, or else because in the end there was nowhere else to go. Only heroes and girl detectives go to the underworld on purpose.  --Kelly Link



If you haven't read anything by Kelly Link, I certainly recommend you do. She's just so interesting! And every time I feel like my writing is too rooted in reality, I turn to one of her short stories to cut loose the old brain tethers. While I like Stranger Things Happen, I LOVE Magic for Beginners. So, I'll settle for recommending both.

If you're already a Kelly Link lover and looking to expand along similar lines, I suggest you check out Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, George Saunders Civilwarland in Bad Decline, and Steven Millhauser's novella Enchanted Night. You will find yourself intrigued and most definitely delighted.

1. Girl detective, via Inspiration Station; 2. Hipsters climbing trees, by Colin H. on Flickr; 3. Boats at the dock, via Delete the Adjectives; 4. Mysterious passage, via Eternita; 5. Paper lanterns, via Jennifer on We Heart It; 6. Party dresses, by Elie Saab, photographed by Florian Bohm, via Lovely Clusters; 7. Midi pleated skirt, by ASOS; 8. Days of the week panties, by Stella McCartney, via Neiman Marcus; 9. Saddle shoes, by I Swear We Were Infinite; 10. Dancer, via Eternally Classic; 11. Secret door, via Chacha Papiers; 12. Fortune cookies, by Just a Taste.

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