The Souvenir Museum: Stories (Hardcover)
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Award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken is an undisputed virtuoso of the short story, and this new collection features her most vibrant and heartrending work to date
In these stories, the mysterious bonds of family are tested, transformed, fractured, and fortified. A recent widower and his adult son ferry to a craggy Scottish island in search of puffins. An actress who plays a children’s game-show villainess ushers in the New Year with her deadbeat half brother. A mother, pining for her children, feasts on loaves of challah to fill the void. A new couple navigates a tightrope walk toward love. And on a trip to a Texas water park with their son, two fathers each confront a personal fear.
With sentences that crackle and spark and showcase her trademark wit, McCracken traces how our closely held desires—for intimacy, atonement, comfort—bloom and wither against the indifferent passing of time. Her characters embark on journeys that leave them indelibly changed—and so do her readers. The Souvenir Museum showcases the talents of one of our finest contemporary writers as she tenderly takes the pulse of our collective and individual lives.
About the Author
Elizabeth McCracken is the author of six books, including Bowlaway, Thunderstruck & Other Stories (winner of the 2014 Story Prize and long-listed for the National Book Award), and The Giant’s House (a National Book Award finalist). Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, won three Pushcart Prizes, a National Magazine Award, and an O. Henry Prize. She has served on the faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently holds the James Michener Chair for Fiction at the University of Texas at Austin.
“McCracken’s sly, emotionally complex collection (after Bowlaway) focuses on characters uprooted from their usual surroundings. . . . Each story opens to reveal a whole life spent within the web of a family, chosen or not. Full of gems, this collection is a winner.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Elizabeth McCracken is a national treasure.”
— Paul Harding, The Wall Street Journal
“Elizabeth McCracken is one of my favorite writers. . . . She writes with acuity, soul, and a kind of easy grace that probably kills her, about characters she has created to love. . . . Anything new by her is an excuse for wild, drunken celebration.”
— Nick Hornby, The Believer
“[McCracken] writes from pain and makes something beautiful from it, and, because she is a writer of remarkable sensitivity and has such a light touch, because so much love is in the observation, something wonderful happens, a kind of transcendence. The mundane becomes profound, and, against all odds, the reader is left feeling uplifted.”
— Carol Birch, The Guardian
"Always...shining through the carefully, beautifully painted grays, is the clarity of McCracken's humor, bright and invigorating, like flickers of sunlight. Humor illuminates her work, revealing things clearly that we might have overlooked. McCracken refuses to distinguish between the absurdity of comedy and the absurdity of tragedy."
— Cathleen Schine, New York Times Book Review
"[McCracken] never promises us freedom from pain, but she always offers just enough heart to endure it. . . . There’s a wickedness to McCracken’s technique, the way she lures us in with her witty voice and oddball characters but then kicks the wind out of us. She never misses the infamous 7-10 split, managing to hit Annie Proulx and Anne Tyler with the same ball."
— Ron Charles, Washington Post
“McCracken knows all kinds of subtle, enticing secrets of the heart and conveys them in silky, transparent language.”
— San Francisco Chronicle