HERE'S YOUR HAT WHAT'S YOUR HURRY by Elizabeth McCracken

HERE'S YOUR HAT WHAT'S YOUR HURRY

Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

 If the title of McCracken's first collection leads you to expect romantic comedy or even a light touch, forget it; this James A. Michener-award-winning author's characters are outcasts, and their lives are grim indeed. In nine stories--all but the title one narrated in the first person--McCracken investigates the lives of the freaks. ``It's Bad Luck to Die'' records the thoughts of a tall, blond, relatively young widow as she comes fully to appreciate that her now-deceased dwarflike elderly husband Tiny, a tattoo artist, has covered every inch of her body in decals, slogans, and copies of Masterpieces of the Renaissance. In ``Some Have Entertained Angels, Unaware,'' a grown woman, a heavy drinker herself, remembers growing up in a house full of alcoholic men whom her father, a widower, collected like strays before he, too, disappeared into the nether reaches of the bottle, leaving the men to raise her. The 55-year-old male narrator of ``The Bar of Our Recent Unhappiness'' (``I am a man of many small mistakes. I am not competent'') quaffs beers with a young man whose mother is dying in the hospital room where the narrator's common-law wife vegetates after a car accident; in the end, the two men get drunk and speak incoherently of their grief. Other characters include a retarded midget, once a twin, who turns up at the door of an armless woman, an old acquaintance from their circus days; a 74-year-old convicted wife-killer, paroled now to a sleepy halfway house; a child prodigy who has grown into a disheveled woman riddled with self-doubt; and, in the title piece, an old woman who's made a career of visiting ``relatives'' she finds in phone books. Many of these stories taste of the writers' workshop--well-crafted but dispassionate and cheerless. An able apprentice Raymond Carver--interesting, but not to everyone's taste.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40026-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993




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