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Author Kelly Link was attracted to the depictions of monsters and partially-clothed women on fantasy book covers.

Author Kelly Link was attracted to the depictions of monsters and partially-clothed women on fantasy book covers.

The first memory I have of reading

My sibling and I were fascinated by Tomi Ungerer’s The Beast of Monsieur Racine, a book featuring two kids who masquerade as a strange creature and are observed by a scientist. It’s an enjoyable tale, but every page is filled with amusing and bizarre occurrences. A nail protrudes from a slide, a thief snatches an item from a preoccupied woman, and an axe falling splits open a man’s head. We examined the pictures as if we were studying a holy scripture.

was “The Catcher in the Rye”

When I was a child, “The Catcher in the Rye” was my preferred book.
Now sadly out of print, Joyce Ballou Gregorian’s The Broken Citadel was the first book of a trilogy. In it, a young girl steps into another world, where she joins a prince and a scholar who mean to kill a monster and rescue a princess. Each chapter is prefaced by a poem or a scholarly note from the imagined realm of Tredana. Gregorian drew on her Armenian heritage for the landscape, mythology and literature of her invented world, and I can still go back to her books as if revisiting a place I’ve actually been.

The book that had a profound impact on me during my teenage years.

During my weekends, I often visited the fantasy and science fiction section of my local bookstore. I was excited to use my weekly allowance to purchase books, but I found myself overwhelmed by the vast selection. The paperback covers of Arthur Saha’s Year’s Best Fantasy anthologies, featuring monsters and scantily-clad women, caught my attention. However, I was too embarrassed to bring one to the counter and purchase it for a long time. When I finally gathered the courage, I discovered that the stories were all captivating and the bookseller didn’t seem to mind the cover art. From then on, I became more confident in my reading choices, regardless of how sensational the cover may be.

The author who altered my perspective.

In the 1990s, I attended a master’s program in fine arts, during a time when Raymond Carver’s writing was considered the benchmark for many young writers. While I appreciated the simplicity and depth of psychologically accurate realistic fiction, my interests lay in crafting ghost stories, science fiction, and fairytales. To be honest, I found realism to be somewhat unexciting. However, when I came across Grace Paley’s work, specifically The Little Disturbances of Man, I discovered that realistic fiction could be just as unconventional, mesmerizing, and thought-provoking as the science fiction and fantasy genres I adored.

The book that inspired me to pursue writing.

Until I wrote one story, I didn’t think I had the skills to become a writer. But as I continued to write more stories, I began to realize my potential. However, I still had doubts about my ability to stick with it. My true passion was and still is reading. It wasn’t until I read Humphrey Carpenter’s JRR Tolkien: A Biography that I understood how to be a writer. The book portrayed Tolkien as a dedicated husband, a supportive friend and colleague to other writers, and someone who used his experiences and interests to create an entire world.

I returned to the book.
The first time I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, I was camping in the Grand Canyon. Every day we went down the Colorado River on a raft, and every night I pulled Red Mars out of my waterproof box and read it by flashlight under the stars. I’d figured that this would be the perfect setting to read a novel about colonising Mars, but in fact I bounced right off. A few years later, though, I picked up Green Mars and fell completely in. And as soon as I read Blue Mars, I went straight back to begin the trilogy again.

The book I reread

Reworded: Georgette Heyer is credited for creating the Regency romance genre as we know it. Her talent for combining sharp dialogue, unconventional love matches, historical accuracy, and satisfying conclusions has yet to be matched by any other author. My personal favorite is Venetia, in which a sheltered young woman falls for a charming but scandalous gentleman, and uncovers a shocking secret within her own family.

The book I could never read again

My first child, who is also my only child, was born prematurely at 24 weeks and weighed approximately 1.5 pounds. Now at 15 years old, they are taller than me. However, due to their early arrival, the first year of their life was spent in different hospitals. During this time, I would often be found sitting in uncomfortable hospital chairs, either working remotely or reading. At the time, I had never read any of Patrick O’Brian’s novels. As his series is quite lengthy, I thought it would keep me occupied. However, every time I picked up one of his Aubrey and Maturin novels, something terrifying or life-threatening would happen in the NICU with my child. Superstitiously, I began to believe that continuing to read O’Brian’s books would somehow bring harm to my child. Although I would love to reread the entire series from the beginning, I know that I can never truly go back to that time in my life.

I came across the book at a later point in my life.

Before teaching a graduate fiction workshop, I had not read any works by Frank O’Hara. During the workshop, there were several poets who were interested in writing short fiction. They were all big admirers of O’Hara, so I decided to read The Collected Poems. I found his writing to be fantastic – friendly, clever, and full of energy. As I read, it felt like I could hear his voice in my head.

I am currently reading a book.
Anton Hur’s translation of Bora Chung’s collection, Cursed Bunny, was one of my favourite books last year, and so I’m in that familiar reader’s bind, where I’m trying to read Your Utopia as slowly as possible, but what I really want is to gobble it up immediately.

My comfort read

I have read Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life numerous times, to the point where I can recite the first few sentences from memory. I believe that one day, I will be able to recite the entire novel.

Source: theguardian.com