Kelly Link belongs to that tiny population of authors whose short story collections never leave you wondering when she’ll write a novel. It’s occasionally tempting to fantasize about what she’d do if some genius hired her to show-run a cable TV drama; does any writer have a better, deeper instinct for the subterranean overlap between pop culture and myth? But then we’d have fewer of her stories, and let’s face it: There are far too few of them as it is ... When Link published her first collection, Stranger Things Happen, this sort of fiction, with its playful intersections of the banal and the wondrous, was rare. There’s more of it now, but Link remains the master of a delicate genre; she never descends into the cutesiness or shtick it is too often heir to. She has also never lost her keen understanding of adolescence, but she’s added a more seasoned, worldly perspective to her repertoire.
In Get in Trouble, Link continues to inhabit a wide range of voices with an offbeat sensibility that never curdles into kitsch, thanks to her nearly infallible ear ... Link's gift for depicting the arcane insecurities of teenagers means that many of her stories — the ones that don't have sex in them — have been cross-shelved as juvenile fiction. Although Link's oeuvre tends to make any such genre distinctions look impoverished, the young-adult designation seems appropriate in one respect. Most of us fell in love with books during childhood or early adolescence. Back then, you'd open a book and the words would give like a trap door beneath your feet, and you'd fall right through them into the author's world. For a distracted adult reader inured to the tricks of the trade, this experience is vanishingly rare. A new Link collection is therefore more than just a good excuse for a trip to the bookstore. It's a zero-gravity vacation in a dust jacket.
It has taken Link 10 years to produce her new story collection, Get in Trouble, and it is just as brilliant as her last ... Link’s stories are etchings rather than political cartoons. The nonrealist details in her worlds — the ghosts and celebrities and unicorns — are not supposed to be exaggerations of our world, or criticisms of it. They are simply supposed to be the small stuff of these worlds, in which her characters struggle with love and conflict and, just like Carver’s characters, experience their small, genuine epiphanies.