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When the Messenger Is Hot
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When the Messenger Is Hot

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  367 ratings  ·  69 reviews
- Published in January 2002, the hardcover was welcomed with a torrent of gleeful acclaim, including profiles of Elizabeth Crane in periodicals throughout the country, from Newsday to the Chicago Tribune to Pages magazine.- These tales of love (and loss) will strike a chord with members of reading groups everywhere.- Hardcover ISBN: 0-316-09652-0
Paperback, 209 pages
Published January 6th 2004 by Back Bay Books (first published January 8th 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 633)
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Pamela
Elizabeth Crane has that thing all writers wish for: a distinctive voice. In this volume (I'm eager to get to her three others), it's caffeinated, deliriously self-conscious, and strangely buoyant. I wouldn't necessarily want to be the young women in these tales--they are by and large confused, directionless, and not so lucky in love--but boy do I like to listen to them. Many of the stories in the collection are deceptively light and comic, but wrap up with a dark, rich note that takes the reade ...more
Jamie
The author has a unique voice, but sadly the stories don't. They're all told by what might as well be the same character, and what might very well be half a step away from the author herself. OK, collections like that can still be good, but this one was just all right. The stories are mildly entertaining and a few are written in a mildly unusual style, but I'm struggling to find anything better to say about these stories. The book is a very quick read, solicits little thought, and doesn't leave ...more
Seth
May 05, 2007 Seth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Once and future girlfriends
Son-of-a-gun. It turns out that finding a book that is written in a voice that is just like that of all of your favorite ex-girlfriends at their most clever, funny, and sophisticated is oddly enjoyable.
Maggie
Elizabeth Crane has such a beautiful mind.
Kelly
Elizabeth Crane's prose is smart yet straightforward, funny yet meaningful. In When the Messenger Is Hot, she experiments with form and point of view while creating memorable characters and scenarios.

There are lots of stories in this book, so I'll just highlight a couple of my favorites. The opener, "The Archetypes Girlfriend," is more of an extended description than a traditional story. Is there such thing as a stereotypical idiosyncrasy? Yes: Crane manages to display tons of them as she hilari
...more
gwen
Elizabeth Crane is just hitting my sweet spot right now -- I haven't allowed myself much fiction since I started school and am trying to read about reference services before I fall asleep, but I cracked on the long bus ride to and from NYC.

When the Messenger is Hot felt like a continuation of All This Heavenly Glory to me, although Crane wrote Messenger first and I'm sure it Glory felt that way to people who read them in the right order. Both books have the same breathlessness, the same introsp
...more
Aaron
"Intervention" just might be my favorite story in this collection. In Crane's story, a woman joins A.A. even though she is not an alcoholic and believes that she has found fulfillment in the organization's teachings. What she has actually done is make a horrid mess of her life and her friends step in to correct her ways.

It's a very funny and relatable story.

Every story in this collection is relatable and funny.

Favorites include:

"Privacy and Coffee" in which a woman inexplicably decides to take
...more
Harriet M.
I really liked Crane's second collection of stories, All This Heavenly Glory, but these stories were neither differentiated enough nor linked enough to be as satisfying as her second book. Most of the stories here deal with, at least in passing, a dead/dying mother and rehab and all feature the same kind of breathless narration and quirky interpolation of odd details and supernatural elements. It was a little too much of the same for me (I had a similar reaction when reading all of John Irving's ...more
Tracy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma
It takes a lot for me to enjoy short story compilations, and this one had me kind of confused. Similar to James Franco's "Palo Alto," I wasn't sure who was who and if in fact all of the stories were the same. But I appreciated the raw emotion and stark sadness that made the lives described in this book darkly humorous.
Gail
What a writer. A very funny, in a dark slightly jaded voice, collection of short stories - mostly about women in bad relationships and dealing with mothers, men, life. Particularily funny "the archetypes girlfriend" and "the Daves" (ever date a series of men with the same name or even if not the same name, the same guy in a different body?). Very good read
Julia
I just walked into a random used bookstore in Bayview and found this. What are the odds?

I liked these well enough. They were an extremely quick read- I read most of it during a session on the stationary bike. I still have to read the story with "New Zealand" in the title. The stories were warm and cute, although "Christina" and "Return from the Depot!" reminded me a little too much of the American suburban magic realism that Douglas Coupland has tried so many times to mostly very annoying resul
...more
Jillian
Okay, so I am between one and two stars for this review...It's not that this wasn't entertaining--it was in some places. Definitely a beach read book. Requires very little attention. I guess I'll choose a one star rating because I really didn't like Crane's portrayal of women--they came across as helpless, unable to see their own faults, all making stupid decisions (primarily about men), and lacking self-awareness. This would be okay for a couple of stories, but it seemed like it was the formula ...more
Anri
A fun collection of mostly-silly stories. There are some dragging bits; would not want to read all the way through. I liked The Daves the best.
Amy
I kinda feel like I know everything Elizabeth Crane can do now, which is disappointing. Reading this book of short stories after reading her novel (that I didn't like much) and her other book of short stories (which I loved) felt like checking off boxes. Fun little surreal stories? Check. References to dead opera singer mom? Check, check, check. References to alcoholism? Check, check....and we're done. I kept waiting to be surprised again, like I was with "You Must Be This Happy to Enter," or at ...more
Anna
I read her later collection of short stories and those were much stronger. Maybe if I hadn't read the collections back to back I would have liked this one better but two collections with the same voice in nearly all the stories is a bit much. Crane seems to put a lot of herself into her protagonists. And, she's very likable but it becomes a bit tiresome since it's the same refrain. Plus, the use of run-ons was confusing at times and broke up the flow of her writing. I get it, I just wished she c ...more
Jasmine
I thought all of the narrators sounded the same and I didn't care about any of them.
Sue M
not my cup of tea..I usually like short stories but not these...
Kseniya Melnik
Very interesting. Very distinctive voice and bold, experimental style. "Return from the Depot!" was my favorite.
Megriffe
I alternated between loving and hating the author during almost every-other story of the book. What I loved was that I felt like certain things were relatable, and that her metaphors were intelligent and unique. What I hated was that I felt like all of the main characters were the same. I also had an issue with the lack of punctuation. I don't know if it was for the sake of the writing or just poor editing. Maybe I just didn't understand. Some of the stories definitely stuck with me though.
Amanda
Jul 02, 2007 Amanda rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: girls
My best friend gave me this book for Christmas in 2005, and while I love her very much, I don't think she read this book all the way through - because within this collection of short stories there are at least three stories of "my mother is dying/died of cancer" - and wouldn't you know it, my OWN mother was dying of cancer at the very same time. Not exactly fun reading. But, taken separately from that, the stories are fun and fluffy but not brilliantly written. This one is just OK.
Andrew
A really great story collection. At first, I kind of felt like each story was just sort of a rehashing of the previous one, but then I realized that the continuing thematic elements weren't a cop out, that is was more that each story seemed to inform the one that followed it, I really found myself caught up in the collection. The story "An Intervention..." in particular really left me feeling satisfied. No glowingly happy endings, but who says you need those anyway.
Gina
This book was like sitting down for a cup of coffee with different friends.
Ruth Conrad
These are interesting short stories narrated by neurotic but literate women. The stories definitely held my interest, as I kept hoping for some stability to enter the lives of these weird women. Some of the sentences filled a page as the characters listed, outlined, or even footnoted the explanations for the unsettling events in their lives. All in all, the tone is entertaining and upbeat rather than depressing.
Jennifer
Reading this book right now is kind of like viewing conceptual art--I appreciated the concepts behind a lot of the stories more than their actual execution as stories. The first story made me wonder how someone decided that this book was even publishable; somewhere in the middle it reminded me of the last chapter of Ulysses. Somewhere in between is how I'd rate this--sometimes bold and funny and sometimes a mess.
Meg Funk
not that good although some parts were amusing
Nancy Monson
Gloriously written collection of short stories. Crane's "stream of consciousness" writing can get a bit tedious at times, but truly does add to the effect. My favs: "The Daves" (frighteningly close to home story about a gal who just dates too many "Daves" only to realize that they are really just one "Dave") and "The Super Fantastic New Zealand Triangle" which might as well be about just the one "Dave."
Eleanor
Some parts were so tiring y read... But then certain stories and certain passages were amazing... That's all vague because I took too long to write this but I feel like i will pick up her other stuff and suffer through parts of it for those certain parts that I would hate to miss. Or maybe her writing will/did(?)get better and better after this book?
Mandy
Aug 04, 2008 Mandy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NOBODY!
I hated this book. Every short story would start out exciting and I would get interested, then it would turn into some rediculous twist and I would ask myself, "why am I wasting my time with this book?" I only continued so I could say, " I did it. I threw away hours of my time just to tell everyone to avoid this book like the plague."
Sharon
I'm not sure if this book is good or if I was just in the right mood to read it, but somehow this seemed like the same person trying to tell her own story over and over, each time a slightly different version, trying to find one that she could live with and make her own. And man, do I sympathize with that.
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Elizabeth Crane is the author of three collections of short stories: When the Messenger Is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory (Little, Brown) and You Must Be This Happy to Enter (Akashic Books). Her work has been featured in Other Voices, Mississippi Review, Bridge, the Chicago Reader, the Believer, and several anthologies including McSweeney’s Future Dictionary of America, The Best Underground Ficti ...more
More about Elizabeth Crane...
We Only Know So Much You Must Be This Happy to Enter All This Heavenly Glory Time Remembered (Timeswept) Banana Love

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