Elizabeth McCracken: “Striking metaphors, playful language, and an affinity for puns.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:


It’s the birthday of American novelist and short-story writer Elizabeth McCracken,  born in Boston in 1966.  McCracken spent her childhood immersed in world record and reference books, which influenced her later decision to earn a master’s in library science. She was an indifferent student in high school and it wasn’t until college, when she took a playwriting course with Derek Walcott, that writing really took hold of her.


Her first collection of stories, Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry, originally written while she was a student in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, was published in 1993 to great acclaim. She followed that with two novels, The Giant’s House (1996) and Niagara Falls All Over Again (2001). Her work is filled with striking metaphors, playful language, and an affinity for puns.


McCracken, who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, says: “Some young writers mistake humorlessness for seriousness. They remove all traces of humor as though with a scalpel, and the patient doesn’t survive the story. Well, life likes jokes; life is constantly making jokes, even at the most inopportune moments. Probably particularly then.”


McCracken’s first child died in utero a week past her due date. Just a few weeks after she had her second child, McCracken began writing about the death of the first child, whom she called “Pudding,” and she didn’t stop writing for several weeks. She said, “I couldn’t manage to give him a life, but at least I could write his biography.” That book was published as the memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. McCracken’s latest book is Bowlaway.


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