Friday, June 20, 2014

Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

I hate when reading slumps happen. Last time I had one, I quit even trying to find a book that would grab me. Once it became clear I was in a slump this time I determined I was not going to let that happen.

The stack of books I started and tossed aside may have upset the delicate balance of my home's foundation. I'm not listing those books, because when I'm in a slump I can't ever be sure if it's a me thing or a them thing, and it wouldn't be fair to be dismissive if there's not really a good reason to do so. (And you know how much I like to wreck a book that has it coming.)

My coworker suggested that a collection of short stories might help. This is where I need to say that while I do enjoy the occasional short story upon which I stumble, I have never been a particular fan of collected short works by a single author. I don't know why. I'm not proud of it or anything. It just is whatever it is.

On her suggestion, though, I brought home Elizabeth McCracken's Thunderstruck & Other Stories, and as with most collected works by one writer, I found some of the stories to be just wonderful and rich and full, and others to be more on the meh end of the scale. In some fashion, all of them have to do with losses --what we do to work them into something that will remain in some way, and how much more we stand to lose if we allow ourselves to be defined by them.

The title story was so good it will resonate with me for a long, long time, for it spoke of crazy hope and perception stained by love and guilt, and it was as fine as any short story I've ever read.

I've considered carefully how to assign a star rating to this one. I didn't read every story through, which makes this something shy of a read book. Rating it, therefore, doesn't feel like the right thing to do...but go back and read that last paragraph. Nobody writes a story that good who is not a fine writer.

What can I say? I own this blog and I can change my rules whenever I want.

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