Booktalk: Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link


Pretty Monsters is an unusual short story collection that will definitely attract some unusual readers.  With my booktalk, I focused on one story that I thought would be most captivating to a large audience and I appealed to my listeners’ curiosity and sense of humor.  Keep in mind that when booktalking a short story collection, you have
the option of talking about the collection as a whole or focusing on one
story like I did.  If you enjoy Kelly Link’s writing (and I think you will), then check out her website to learn more about her and those oh-so-amazing stories.

Oh, and one other booktalking note: my spoken booktalk differs slightly from my written one.  Usually if I go “off script” while recording the podcast I edit the written booktalk to match, but this time I left the changes on purpose.  I wanted you guys to see that a booktalk can evolve over time.  In part it’s because the way we write is a little different from the way we speak.  In part it’s because we start to take mental and verbal shortcuts if we say the same thing over and over again.  If you listened to a booktalk that I wrote on the day I wrote it, a week later, a month later, and a year later, it would sound a little different each time.  That’s not a bad thing; it’s just nature taking its course.  A little flexibility is definitly an asset, especially when you’re performing a booktalk in front of an audience.  If you’re comfortable enough with the words to be able to make some impromptu changes as you go along, you’ll be less likely to freeze like a deer in the headlights in front of the class.  Which is DEFINITELY a good thing.


Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link is a unique collection of fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories.  Each story has different elements of fantasy, from wizards to ghosts to aliens.  The story I’m going to share with you today is about a boy named Miles who is digging up his late girlfriend’s grave.

Now you might be wondering why he’d do such a thing.

Well, after Bethany died, Miles decided to make a very romantic gesture.  He wrote a bunch of poems just for her, some of the best ones he’d ever written.  And he took those poems, hand-written and covered with tear stains, and he’d put them in Bethany’s casket with her, so that no one else would ever read them.  But now it’s almost a year later, and Miles has changed his mind.  He’s realized what an idiot he was burying those poems with Bethany — how will the world be able to recognize his genius if no one else can read these poems?  So anyway, THAT’S why he’s digging up Bethany’s grave.  Miles’ plan is to dig down to the coffin, open it, take the poems, and get out of there ASAP … but things don’t go exactly the way he expects.  Because when he opens the coffin he sees a dead girl … only it’s the wrong dead girl.  And not only is she not the person he expected, but she’s also not as dead as he expected.  But Miles doesn’t REALLY freak out until she starts talking to him.  She tells him that her name is Gloria, not Bethany.  She also tells him that she doesn’t feel like staying in the graveyard anymore; in fact, now that he’s dug her up, she wants to come with him.  You can find out what happens in the story of “The Wrong Grave,” which is just one of the amazing stories in

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link


  1. Judith says:

    I may have missed this, but what is the target age group?

    I am looking for short stories for my 9th graders.

  2. beabetterbooktalker says:

    I put this book into the middle school and high school categories because I’ve booktalked it to both groups.  I think that “The Wrong Grave” as well as several other stories in this collection would be good choices for 9th graders.

  3. Judith says:

    My local B&N did not have it.
    I will try Amazon next.

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