Sunday, June 29, 2003

Catskin: a swaddled zine, by Kelly Link

When Christopher Rowe called for contributions to the below zine, for whatever reason this story was not completed in time. Hence its publication by either Jelly Ink Press or Small Beer Press, I'm not certain which. It's a tiny little book, which I happened upon while browsing at Quimby's, and which you yourself will probably never find again if you don't already have a copy. Moment of smugness. OK, now I can tell you that this same story appears in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales which is not so very difficult to find and which households of good repute already have on their book-shelf or -stack. (Households of ill repute may have copies as well, but rest assured that I wouldn't know it if they did.) So you too can own and read Ms. Link's fairy tale.

Catskin is the story of Small, the smallest of a dying witch's three surviving children, and the one to whom she bequeaths her revenge. What follows is a fairy tale, skinned, worn and turned inside-out, stained, torn and stretched almost beyond recognition. What's best about Link is that she never follows straight lines and rarely takes the quick and clean way through when slow and dirty will do. Small is befriended by one of his mother's cats, and becomes a cat himself, or a boy in a catsuit, traveling with a cat who becomes like a mother to him except insofar as she may in fact be his real mother, who may or may not still be buried in the infant house where he and his brother and sister left her. You must read this story, because I cannot describe it any better than this, and this is terribly inadequate. So go, and buy, and read.


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