The Girl Detective

January 19, 2010 at 10:27 PM Leave a comment

Fortune Cookie Magnifying Glass
“There are three kinds of food.”
Secret origins of the girl detective

Firstly, let me apologize for the long hiatus. I’ll try not to do that again. Secondly, this review will be a little different than many of my others. This is a review of a short story that, in addition to being in print, is also available as a free pdf. Therefore, this is going to be less of a spoiler-free review and more of a spoiler-filled dissection. I recommend that before you read this review, you read the story. You can download it here: http://smallbeerpress.com/creative-commons/?did=30 , and “The Girl Detective” is on p. 251 of the pdf. (The rest of the pdf is filled with the rest of the stories from the anthology Stranger Things Happen. It’s a great collection, and I heartily recommend it all!)

Alright, I’m hoping that everyone (if anyone is still reading this) has now read “The Girl Detective”. First off, this is my favorite Kelly Link story yet. It is thick with references, as you can probably tell. Nancy Drew, which seems to be the main influence, but also chinese restaurants, fortune cookies, and
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
are all overt references, but what else? There’s a Hades reference (the fourth kind of food is from the Underworld) and of course the whole Underworld. There’s also some oedipal influences and gender role confusion, as the Girl Detective represents our mothers, our daughters, our wives, our lovers. The Girl Detective could even be a man, says the narrator, or the narrator himself/herself, it actually doesn’t say which gender the narrator is, although I seem to picture the narrator as male on first impression. And there could well be more than one narrator, for all we know. I think that the “DANCE WITH BEAUTIFUL GIRLS” section is from a different point of view. I think that could be the fat man, who is also a detective, and who, we know has a dead wife. At the end of the “DANCE WITH BEAUTIFUL GIRLS” section, the narrator of that section marries one of the twelve daughters. So if there are two narrators, why not more? At least two, the main narrator, who sits in the tree, and the second narrator. Or maybe they are one.

And then there’s the housekeeper, who we know nothing about, but who seems similar to the getaway driver and the stern nightclub woman. And they seem to almost all represent the Girl Detective’s mother, or at the least the mother figure. Are they the same? Perhaps…

So there’s the Girl Detective, the stern getaway driver/housekeeper/nightclub woman/mother, the twelve princesses/daughters/bank robbers/dancers, the waiters, the fat man, the father, and the narrator. Any and all of whom could be the Girl Detective. She shares the same Day of the Week underwear as the bank robbers, she’s a detective like the fat man, she could be her own mother, as she’s certainly, at least sometimes, a mother figure, and she could be the narrator as well. After all, the Girl Detective is a master of disguises…

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