introducing readers to writers since 1995

March 26, 2004

Literature in the Outer Boroughs

by Ron Hogan

It was off to Barbès, a tiny Park Slope bar, to hear Kelly Link read from her short story "The Hortlak," about the night clerk at a convenience store across the street from a chasm from which zombies periodically arise, his coworker who sleeps in the supply closet and has a never-ending supply of different pajamas, and his sort-of girlfriend, who works at the animal shelter and takes dogs out for one last drive before putting them sleep. It was great stuff, full of the surreal dream-like imagery that makes Link's stories so irresistible. We got a chance to talk before story time began, to chat about a book she's very enthusiastic about: Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club. (I just got my ARC yesterday, and am hoping to dig into it soon...)

She was followed by Jim Shepard, who gave us the world premiere of a new short story, "Ancestral Legacies," narrated in the first-person voice of Ernst Schäfer, a German orinthologist who really was, in the early years of World War II, sent to Tibet by Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler to search the Himalayas for the origins of the Aryan race. And, as the story revealed, spent plenty of time looking for the Yeti while he was there. It was a hilarious tale, with Schäfer and his colleague stuck out at the ass-end of nowhere, and at times you could forget that these were two Nazi officers...but then Schäfer's complaints about the natives turn into articulations of "race science" and you're reminded again of who he is--and what it says about the Nazis that they'd send two guys out on such a dumb mission (so dumb, Shepard told me after the reading as he signed my copy of Love and Hydrogen, that even Hitler couldn't believe Himmler'd blow funds on it and ordered the mission scrapped as soon as he found out).


Yay! You're going to love The Jane Austen Book Club.

And The Hortlak cracks me up. Great story.

Posted by: Bondgirl at March 26, 2004 02:16 PM
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