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Thunderstruck & Other Stories Hardcover – April 22, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Twenty years after her first collection of stories (Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry!, 1993), McCracken returns to short fiction with this collection of nine marvelously quirky, ironic, but, most of all, poignant stories. A young woman befriends a lonely, eccentric children’s librarian, who is then devastated when the young woman is found murdered. An English couple who moved to France deed their house to the husband’s son from his first marriage, and he later sells it out from under them, leaving them essentially homeless. A woman cares for her granddaughter in Iowa while her son, the girl’s father, is dying in a Boston hospital, and neither is able to say goodbye. A woman who lives with her aging father and teenage son disappears into thin air, leaving her son reduced to stealing frozen pizzas from the corner market. Though her characters may seem strange, McCracken paints them with such rich detail that it feels as if we must know them, after all—so immersed in their lives do we become in just a few pages. --Deborah Donovan


“Elizabeth McCracken knows how loss can melt reality, forever altering a person’s sense of time. . . . In her new collection, McCracken gives brilliantly splintered life to just that kind of story. . . . The fact that there is nothing depressing about the ubiquity of accident and disaster in Thunderstruck & Other Stories is a powerful testament to the scratchy humor and warm intelligence of McCracken’s writing. . . . Her wisdom and wit have a moral dimension that deepens our sympathy for her straying souls. . . . [A] restorative, unforgettable collection.”—Sylvia Brownrigg, The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)

“Stunningly beautiful . . . brilliantly moving . . . Moments of joy and pure magic flicker and pitch-perfect humor acts as a furtive SOS signal through the fog of loss.”Los Angeles Times

“[A] bewitching and wise collection . . . playful, even joyful.”O: The Oprah Magazine
“Each of Thunderstruck’s nine stories is a storm: delightful and destructive, packed with electricity, fascinating to watch unfold.”Salon
“The stories here are brilliant, funny and heartbreaking. . . . Elizabeth McCracken is a national treasure.”—Paul Harding, The Wall Street Journal
“Pure delight: one lyrical, impeccably constructed sentence after another.”Chicago Tribune
“Beautifully wrought . . . As painstaking as a watchmaker, McCracken disassembles life down to its smallest parts.”The Boston Globe
“The stories in Elizabeth McCracken’s latest collection land as swift and true as a prizefighter’s blows, and often they feel just as powerful, emotionally speaking. . . . The psychological punches McCracken delivers, with her keen sense of irony and mordant humor, are unforgettable.”The Miami Herald

“The draw here is mesmerizing strangeness, heightened by McCracken’s extraordinary images. . . . McCracken’s description of eyeglasses which are ‘the opposite of the weather: overcast when it was bright, clear when it was cloudy’ will color the way you see transition lenses as surely as her off-kilter tales will subtly shade your view of love and parenting. . . . McCracken explores her characters' subtexts even as she catches them in the car wrecks of their lives. To resist gawking is hopeless. Brace yourself for rubbernecking delays.”—NPR

“Elizabeth McCracken is one of my favorite writers. Or, to put it another way: I’ve read everything she’s written . . . and there’s nothing I haven’t liked and admired enormously. . . . She writes with acuity, soul, and a kind of easy grace that probably kills her, about characters she has created to love. . . . ‘Thunderstruck’ showcases all the things this remarkable writer is so good at: the eccentric but illuminating metaphors, the deft characterization, the heart-lurching narrative development, the tenderness, the fantastic aphorisms. . . . Anything new by her is an excuse for wild, drunken celebration.”—Nick Hornby, The Believer
“These gorgeous stories are so full of human oddity and surprising emotions. . . . [Thunderstruck & Other Stories] is alive with wit and feeling.”Newsday
“Brilliant . . . captivating . . . electrifying . . . Let’s not forget the meticulous qualities of McCracken’s sinuous prose, or the ingenuity of her plots.”San Francisco Chronicle
“McCracken’s stories are fresh, peculiar and always entertaining.”The Huffington Post

“McCracken writes gorgeously sharp and insistent prose; her stories dazzle, uniquely angled and original.”More

“[Elizabeth McCracken] writes sentences so beautiful you’ll want to stand up and applaud. I underlined so many phrases and details my copy is a mess, but that still didn’t keep me from lending it to my best friend. . . . McCracken’s revelatory prose style makes it impossible for even the bleakest story lines to feel like anything short of a blessing.”Cosmopolitan

“There’s a strange magic . . . in Elizabeth McCracken’s work.”Reader’s Digest

“Haunting . . . McCracken assigns herself the task of showing her readers that there is no prescribed way to grieve or to love.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Extraordinary . . . In story after story, McCracken looks at the complexity of grief. At the same time, her quick eye never misses the strange little joys life comes up with.”The Dallas Morning News

“It’s a rare story collection that starts strong and ends up even stronger. In her new book, Thunderstruck & Other Stories, award-winning novelist Elizabeth McCracken achieves this result through a combination of nonchalance, empathy and sheer intelligence. . . . There’s no dearth of fine authors who have taken to writing short stories of late. Few, however, possess McCracken’s full palette of hues, tones and shadows. This is three-dimensional writing at its most vivid.”Portland Press Herald

“Magnetic . . . Anyone who enjoys short fiction will find pleasure and substance in McCracken’s witty, world-wise collection.”Library Journal

“[Elizabeth] McCracken’s short stories are like no others. Her distinctive voice, her slightly askew manner of looking at the world, her mix of mordant humor and tenderness, her sense of life’s ironies, and the jolt of electricity at the end of each tale make her work arresting and memorable. . . . Readers will enjoy reading them twice—the first time quickly, because the plots are mesmerizing and strange, and the second to relish the dozens of images, aperçus, and descriptions. . . . McCracken transforms life’s dead ends into transformational visions.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Marvelously quirky, ironic, but, most of all, poignant . . . McCracken paints [her characters] with such rich detail that it feels as if we must know them.”Booklist

“A bracing collection . . . The connecting notion—that love’s great capacity for tenderness must bear the risk of pain—is depicted with both joy and ruthlessness.”—Shelf Awareness

“Elizabeth McCracken’s magnificent stories are in a category all their own. They tremble with life, quake with heart-rending emotion, shine with wicked humor, and linger with a beautiful urgency. Thunderstruck & Other Stories is a stunning collection, a powerhouse of invention and heart and rare, buoyant curiosity.”—Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This
“It’s rare for title and book to work so well, in fact so perfectly, together. In this vibrant, darkly funny, deeply tender collection, the reader is thunderstruck, again and again, by Elizabeth McCracken’s endless gifts of plot, prose and insight that is as compassionate and sharp as one can bear.”—Amy Bloom, bestselling author of Where the God of Love Hangs Out and Away

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press; F First Edition edition (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385335776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385335775
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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