Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry by Elizabeth McCracken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
One character stands out above all the rest in Elizabeth McCracken’s flamboyant collection of short stories: Aunt Helen Beck, an imposing and imperious wanderer who moves from stranger’s home to stranger’s home, masquerading as a long-lost relative until she is kicked back out onto the street. Judging by the vast array of circus sideshow performers, eccentric tattoo artists, and itinerant poets with handlebar mustaches on display in this collection, colorful characters are McCracken’s forte, and the supporting casts of each of the nine stories included here are really what give the collection its drive. Sometimes, as in the case of “Mercedes Kane” (an unsatisfying sketch about a middle-aged former child genius), the author’s tendency to prioritize characters over plot becomes tiresome; often, as with Aunt Helen Beck, the tradeoff is entirely worth it. Overall, just as with so many other short-story collections, the humorous genius of a few pieces is marred by their less impressive neighbors, and, like Aunt Helen Beck, Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry is best picked up, briefly enjoyed, and then cast away once more.