‘Magic for Beginners’ by Kelly Link

The Library is the best TV show ever. I feel like I’ve been watching it for years, ever since I first came across this labyrinthine story within a story. The Library could appear on any channel at any time, with its rotating band of actors who take turns to play the characters. In The Free People’s World-Tree Library, librarians battle forbidden books and pirate magicians. There is an Angela Carter Memorial Park on the seventeenth floor and an enchanted underground sea on the third floor. We join a group of obsessive teenage fans who watch out for and dissect each new episode of a programme which has “no regular schedule, no credits, and sometimes not even dialogue. One episode of the library takes place inside the top drawer of a card catalogue, in pitch dark, and it’s all in Morse code with subtitles. Nothing else.” It doesn’t need anything else. It will always be the best TV show ever whether it exists or not.

First published in Magic for Beginners, Small Beer Press, 2005/Harper Perennial 2009. Also available in Pretty Monsters, Viking 2008/Canongate 2009. Available to read online here

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