Not only does Kelly Link have a masterful grasp of Magic Realism, but more importantly she has a wicked sense of humor and a keen eye for detail. I love her story “Vanishing Act” not so much for its supernatural metaphors, but for how vividly it illustrates its characters and the world they live in:
The three of them were sitting in a boat. When she closed her eyes, she could almost picture it. A man and a woman and a girl, in a green boat on the green water. Her mother had written that the water was an impossible color; she imagined the mint color of the Harmons’ Tupperware. But what did the boat look like? Was it green? How she wished her mother had described the boat!
The boat refused to settle upon the water. It was too buoyant, sliding along the mint surface like a raindrop on a pane of glass. It had no keel, no sail, no oars. And if they fell in, no lifejackets (at least she knew of none). The man and the woman, unaware, smiled at each other over the head of the girl. And the girl was holding on to both sides of the boat for dear life, holding it intact and upright on the tilting Tupperware-colored water.
She realized that not only had the boat been left out of the letter; after so long she could hardly trust her parents to resemble her memories of them. That was the great tragedy, the inconvenient unseaworthiness of memories and boats and letters, that events never remained themselves long enough for you to insert yourself into them. . . . The girl fell out of the boat into the green water.
Was it cold? She didn’t know.