The singular, enchanting debut story collection from Elizabeth McCracken, now back in print as part of Ecco’s “Art of the Story” series, and with a new introduction from the author
Called “astonishingly assured” by The Guardian, the nine stories that make up Elizabeth McCracken’s debut story collection deal with oddball characters doing their very best to forge connections with those around them.
In “It’s Bad Luck to Die” a woman marries an older tattoo artist and finds comfort in agreeing to act as a canvas for his most elaborate work. “Some Have Entertained Angels, Unaware” follows a young girl as she comes face to face with a cast of eccentrics her recently-widowed father has invited to live in their expansive but dilapidated home. And in the title story, a young man and his wife are perplexed when an outspoken old woman shows up on their doorstep for a visit, claiming to be a distant aunt, even though she can’t be traced on a family tree.
At once captivating and offbeat, Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry is a dazzling showcase of the early years of Elizabeth McCracken’s prodigious talent.
McCracken repeatedly creates characters who crave emotional shelter in this debut collection of nine stories. At times her oddball individuals seem contrived, as in the listless ``Some Have Entertained Angels, Unaware,'' narrated by a motherless girl whose father allows an ever-shifting cast of eccentrics to take up residence in his spacious, run-down home. Similarly, ``What We Know About the Lost Aztec Children'' features an armless woman--a former sideshow attraction--who welcomes a lonely friend from the circus into her family's suburban home. Sometimes though, such conscious attempts to blend perversity and sentimentality pay off: In ``It's Bad Luck to Die,'' a woman marries a tattooist three decades her senior and shows her love by becoming a canvas for his most extravagant work. Another highlight is the wistful title tale, whose nomadic protagonist makes a life of being an uninvited, potentially unwanted guest by introducing herself to unwary families as their long-lost Aunt Helen Beck (hell and back?). Ultimately, Here's Your Hat is a melancholy book, filled with dispossessed, acquiescent characters incapable of forging permanent bonds with those who offer refuge.