Fiction Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

Published on June 9th, 2014


Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

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Blurb: From the author of the beloved novel The Giant’s House – finalist for the National Book Award – comes a beautiful new story collection, her first in twenty years. Laced through with humour, empathy, and rare and magical descriptive powers these nine vibrant stories navigate the fragile space between love and loneliness. In ‘Property’, a young scholar, grieving the sudden death of his wife, decides to refurbish the Maine rental house they were to share together by removing his landlord’s possessions. In ‘Peter Elroy: A Documentary by Ian Casey’, the household of a successful filmmaker is visited years later by his famous first subject, whose trust he betrayed. And in the unforgettable title story, a family makes a quixotic decision to flee to Paris for a summer, only to find their lives altered in an unimaginable way by their teenage daughter’s risky behaviour. (Jonathan Cape, June 2014)

Erica Wagner, The Financial Times

“The characters in Thunderstruck are dealt bad hands; and yet, underlying all these stories is an optimism about human nature that manages never to be cloying – and, as in the stories of Lorrie Moore, a vein of dark humour runs alongside everything.”

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Stuart Evers, The Observer

As one would expect from the author of the superb novel The Giant’s House, this is far from a bleak book. Jewelled and barbed with the beauty and brutality of real life, these are sentences of perfect weight and understanding. There are no fillers here, no stories that disappoint: the nine coalesce into something rare and understatedly breathtaking. Like the missing who haunt these stories, Thunderstruck is unforgettable.

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Maria Waclawiak, The Washington Post

“McCracken sets up moral conundrums throughout her collection. Readers will find themselves asking, well, which is worse — the aftermath of death or shouldering the living? Thunderstruck & Other Stories never buckles under the weight of all this grief, though. Moments of joy and pure magic flicker and pitch-perfect humor acts as a furtive SOS signal through the fog of loss.”

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Sylvia Brownrigg, The New York Times

“The fact that there is nothing depressing about the ubiquity of accident and disaster in Thunderstruck and Other Stories is a powerful testament to the scratchy humor and warm intelligence of McCracken’s writing.”

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John Self, The Independent

“Grief and loss are here on every page, watermarked through the paper. Parents lose children, a child loses his parent, a woman loses a love that might not seem worth having in the first place. “It was not nice love, it was not good love, but you cannot tell me that it wasn’t love.” If, as Elizabeth Bishop wrote, the art of losing isn’t hard to master, then McCracken’s characters are reluctant experts.”

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