Kelly Link: Get in Trouble: Stories

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Kelly Link Get in Trouble: Stories
  • Название:
    Get in Trouble: Stories
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Random House
  • Жанр:
    Современная проза / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2015
  • Язык:
    Английский
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    3 / 5
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Get in Trouble: Stories: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction” and by Neil Gaiman as “a national treasure.” Now Kelly Link’s eagerly awaited new collection — her first for adult readers in a decade — proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have. Link has won an ardent following for her ability, with each new short story, to take readers deeply into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed fictional universe. The nine exquisite examples in this collection show her in full command of her formidable powers. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll. Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, superheroes, the Pyramids. . These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty — and the hidden strengths — of human beings. In this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.

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Kelly Link


Get in Trouble: Stories

For Henry William Link III

Year after year

On the monkey’s face

A monkey face

— Basho, trans. Robert Hass

The Summer People

Фото

Fran’s daddy woke her up wielding a mister. “Fran,” he said, spritzing her like a wilted houseplant. “Fran, honey. Wakey wakey.”

Fran had the flu, except it was more like the flu had Fran. In consequence of this, she’d laid out of school for three days in a row. The previous night, she’d taken four NyQuil caplets and gone to sleep on the couch while a man on the TV threw knives. Her head was stuffed with boiled wool and snot. Her face was wet with watered-down plant food. “Hold up,” she croaked. “I’m awake!” She began to cough, so hard she had to hold her sides. She sat up.

Her daddy was a dark shape in a room full of dark shapes. The bulk of him augured trouble. The sun wasn’t out from behind the mountain yet, but there was a light in the kitchen. There was a suitcase, too, beside the door, and on the table a plate with a mess of eggs. Fran was starving.

Her daddy went on. “I’ll be gone some time. A week or three. Not more. You’ll take care of the summer people while I’m gone. The Robertses come up this weekend. You’ll need to get their groceries tomorrow or next day. Make sure you check the expiration date on the milk when you buy it, and put fresh sheets on all the beds. I’ve left the house schedule on the counter and there should be enough gas in the car to make the rounds.”

“Wait,” Fran said. Every word hurt. “Where are you going?” He sat down on the couch beside her, then pulled something out from under him. He showed her what he held: one of Fran’s old toys, the monkey egg. “Now, you know I don’t like these. I wish you’d put ’em away.”

“There’s lots of stuff I don’t like,” Fran said. “Where you off to?”

“Prayer meeting in Miami. Found it on the Internet,” her daddy said. He shifted on the couch, put a hand against her forehead, so cool and soothing it made her eyes leak. “You don’t feel near so hot right now.”

“I know you need to stay here and look after me,” Fran said. “You’re my daddy.”

“Now, how can I look after you if I’m not right?” he said. “You don’t know the things I’ve done.”

Fran didn’t know but she could guess. “You went out last night,” she said. “You were drinking.”

“I’m not talking about last night,” he said. “I’m talking about a lifetime.”

“That is—” Fran said, and then began to cough again. She coughed so long and so hard she saw bright stars. Despite the hurt in her ribs, and despite the truth that every time she managed to suck in a good pocket of air, she coughed it right back out again, the NyQuil made it all seem so peaceful, her daddy might as well have been saying a poem. Her eyelids were closing. Later, when she woke up, maybe he would make her breakfast.

“Any come around, you tell ’em I’m gone on ahead. Ary man tells you he knows the hour or the day, Fran, that man’s a liar or a fool. All a man can do is be ready.”

He patted her on the shoulder, tucked the counterpane up around her ears. When she woke again, it was late afternoon and her daddy was long gone. Her temperature was 102.3. All across her cheeks, the plant mister had left a red, raised rash.


On Friday, Fran went back to school. Breakfast was a spoon of peanut butter and dry cereal. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten. Her cough scared off the crows when she went down to the county road to catch the school bus.

She dozed through three classes, including calculus, before having such a fit of coughing the teacher sent her off to see the nurse. The nurse, she knew, was liable to call her daddy and send her home. This might have presented a problem, but on the way to the nurse’s station, Fran came upon Ophelia Merck at her locker.

Ophelia Merck had her own car, a Lexus. She and her family had been summer people, except now they lived in their house up at Horse Cove on the lake all year round. Years ago, Fran and Ophelia had spent a summer of afternoons playing with Ophelia’s Barbies while Fran’s father smoked out a wasps’ nest, repainted cedar siding, tore down an old fence. They hadn’t really spoken since then, though once or twice after that summer, Fran’s father brought home paper bags full of Ophelia’s hand-me-downs, some of them still with the price tags.

Fran eventually went through a growth spurt, which put a stop to that; Ophelia was still tiny, even now. And far as Fran could figure, Ophelia hadn’t changed much in most other ways: pretty, shy, spoiled, and easy to boss around. The rumor was her family’d moved full-time to Robbinsville from Lynchburg after a teacher caught Ophelia kissing another girl in the bathroom at a school dance. It was either that or Mr. Merck being up for malpractice, which was the other story, take your pick.

“Ophelia Merck,” Fran said. “I need you to come with me to see Nurse Tannent. She’s going to tell me to go home. I’ll need a ride.”

Ophelia opened her mouth and closed it. She nodded.

Fran’s temperature was back up again, at 102. Tannent even wrote Ophelia a note to go off campus.

“I don’t know where you live,” Ophelia said. They were in the parking lot, Ophelia searching for her keys.

“Take the county road,” Fran said. “129.” Ophelia nodded. “It’s up a ways on Wild Ridge, past the hunting camps.” She lay back against the headrest and closed her eyes. “Oh, hell. I forgot. Can you take me by the convenience first? I have to get the Robertses’ house put right.”

“I guess I can do that,” Ophelia said.

At the convenience, Fran picked up milk, eggs, whole-wheat sandwich bread, and cold cuts for the Robertses, Tylenol and more NyQuil for herself, as well as a can of frozen orange juice, microwave burritos, and Pop-Tarts. “On the tab,” she told Andy.

“I hear your pappy got himself into trouble the other night,” Andy said.

“That so,” Fran said. “He went down to Florida yesterday morning. He said he needs to get right with God.”

“God ain’t who your pappy needs to get on his good side,” Andy said.

Fran pressed her hand against her burning eye. “What’s he done?”

“Nothing that can’t be fixed with the application of some greaze and good manners,” Andy said. “You tell him we’ll see to’t when he come back.”

Half the time her daddy got to drinking, Andy and Andy’s cousin Ryan were involved, never mind it was a dry county. Andy kept all kinds of liquor out back in his van for everwho wanted it and knew to ask. The good stuff came from over the county line, in Andrews. The best stuff, though, was the stuff Fran’s daddy made. Everyone said that Fran’s daddy’s brew was too good to be strictly natural. Which was true. When he wasn’t getting right with God, Fran’s daddy got up to all kinds of trouble. Fran’s best guess was that, in this particular situation, he’d promised to supply something that God was not now going to let him deliver. “I’ll tell him you said so.”

Ophelia was looking over the list of ingredients on a candy wrapper, but Fran could tell she was interested. When they got back into the car Fran said, “Just because you’re doing me a favor don’t mean you need to know my business.”

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